There are moments in time when it seems like parents can’t do anything right.
No matter how well something might work for them and their child, someone else will take issue, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor g43m thought they had a good system in place with their four-year-old daughter, who would occasionally ask to place herself in timeout in order to regulate her feelings.
But when friends took issue with how the daughter was being raised, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they had done too much to encourage timeouts in their home.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for letting my daughter take a self-regulated timeout?”
The OP allowed their toddler to self-regulate.
“My daughter is 4, and like all 4-year-olds, she occasionally has a tantrum.”
“When she does, I may give her a timeout depending on the severity.”
“Over time, she also realized on her own that if she was too overwhelmed, she can simply ask for a timeout before we intervened as parents, and we would let her take it.”
But not everyone agreed with the practice.
“Recently, we had some friends visiting and she had a tantrum during their visit.”
“My friends watched as she had her meltdown, and then asked me for a timeout.”
“She went by herself to her designated spot and was back a couple of minutes later and went back to happily playing.”
“This sparked a discussion among friends, and the verdict was that I was an a**hole for ‘getting her so used to timeouts.'”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said emotional self-regulation was an important tool to develop early.
“NTA. She’s learning to regulate her own emotions, IMO. I think sometimes adults should put themselves in time out with how they act.” – KeairaKerrigan
“OP, your kid sounds fantastic. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how much I’d spent on therapy as an adult before I realized (and could believe) that emotional self-regulation was even an option.” – scheru
“I actually put myself in timeouts. If I’m too upset at my partner or at a certain situation, I go into the bathroom until I can think clearly and be able to communicate my emotions effectively and without intense emotion behind them.”
“Sometimes you need to excuse yourself to calm down, and I find that to be a better solution than blowing up at someone.”
“I think what OP’s daughter is doing is quite mature for her age. It’s a good thing. NTA.” – ijustwantedadryer
“My husband knows that sometimes I go on walks because I can’t explain why I’m upset in the moment. He has never had a problem with it, because when I come home, we are able to talk about the issue rationally. Doing so took until I was about 28 or 29.”
“OP, your kid is mature well beyond her years, and you are NTA.” – brandnewtoreddit1234
“I didn’t figure it out until my senior year of college. If I can take a break from whatever situation is causing me distress and figure out what I’m feeling and why, it’s so much easier to go back and have a conversation or move forward with my day.”
“It’s seriously improved my relationships with other people and with myself! If I had learned how to do that at 4 years old, my life would be so much better in a lot of ways.” – DoctorNerdyPants
Others played with the phrasing of the situation.
“I’m gonna start calling my alone time a ‘timeout’ and see if it makes my husband understand what I mean a little better. Sometimes I don’t like people and I’m overstimulated but he’s very much the opposite and doesn’t understand why I want to sit in our room by myself.” – Low-Jellyfish1621
“I’ve been working with kids for years, and at the school I work at, this is how we were trained to help the kids understand and regulate their emotions. It taught them it was okay and helpful to ask for a break, it isn’t a punishment.”
“Sometimes we ask, ‘Do you need to take a break?’ and sometimes they ask us if they can take a break.”
“I don’t know, in my experience, it’s been a helpful tool while maintaining respect between everyone, you sound like a good parent.” – heganqusgwmzibww
“She is learning to self-regulate her emotions. This is actually how we talk about it in my house. If the kid is overwhelming a parent with negative behavior the parent takes a time out if the kid won’t.”
“We generally call it a ‘quiet minute,’ not a ‘timeout,’ but the function is the same.” – PurpleMP12
“OP’s friends are framing time out as a punishment. (‘You’re being bad, so I’m going to remove you until you stop being bad. Then you can come back and be around us.’)
“OP has framed time out as a tool. (‘You are having some trouble processing your feelings right now, so why don’t you take a break for a few minutes while you focus on doing that. Then we can talk, keep playing, or whatever.’)” – baffled_soap
“I highly suggest changing the name from time-outs to something people can’t misconstrue. Maybe like ‘Can I have a break time?’ Or ‘can I have a sensory break?’”
“Problem is, teaching that kind of language to a 4-year-old might be a challenge.”
“If you haven’t already, you could always let her know she can take a sensory break before she gets stressed enough to have a tantrum? She might not be able to tell when it’s going to happen yet, but a preemptive regulatory skill is even better than one after the fact.” – Dontdrinkthecoffee
“My 5-year-old calls it calm down time, and she has a calm down corner in her room specifically set up for her to relax. She has a bean bag chair, a couple of little toys and stuffies, a couple of books, and a radio.”
“We had a playdate a couple of weeks ago, and there was a very adorable interactions where the visiting kid asked my daughter to borrow her calm down corner for some ‘lone time,’ and my daughter patted her on the shoulder and very seriously said, ‘Of course, take all the time you need,’ which is exactly what I say when my daughter asks for some calm down time.” – Fairykinn
Some took issue with the friends’ outlook during the visit.
“More to the point your friends sound like morons, not to mention envious of your self-aware child. Kudos on what’s obviously an effective course of parenting. NTA.” – Technical-Calendar28
“NTA of course not. I’m also the parent of a 4-year-old, and getting them to take their own time out/breather is the dream. She’s learning self-regulation which a lot of adults struggle with.”
“Maybe it’s just the phrase ‘timeout’ that bothered your friends (or maybe they’re AHs), but sports teams call their own timeouts all the time. It’s a time to breathe and regroup. Keep up the good work.” – lemonhead2345
“What you’re teaching her is that there are consequences to poor behavior and how to regulate herself by going to calm down.”
“Your friends should stay out of your parenting.” – Ducky818
“NTA. Possibly NAH, but not enough info on the friends.”
“Your daughter is managing her mental health better than a lot of adults. She realizes when she needs to remove herself from a situation, and returns when she is in better control.”
“I think part of the problem here is that ‘timeout’ is often used as a punishment, and your friends may be thinking that you’ve trained your daughter to punish herself.”
“Calling them something like ‘Mental Health Breaks’ when she chooses to do it herself may help to solve the problem.” – RevKyriel
“She’s learning to control her anger and what she needs to do in order to accomplish this. She’s not ‘getting used to timeouts.’ She’s having a cool off and clam down break.”
“Your friends have a problem with the wording, and misunderstand what it means to your daughter. Luckily they mean very little to your inner family dynamic and you owe them nothing.”
“My son is on the spectrum and has times where something might confuse him or a misunderstanding happens, and he gets angry, or sad, but basically emotional and would have a tantrum.”
“I would ask him if it makes him feel good going through that, to which he said no. So we worked together to find other ways. We’ve been teaching him techniques to use in school. Mostly using his words AND asking to take a small break to just chill, take his mind off it, and come back collected.”
“It’s been working well, and he realizes how much his anger can control him. We have a saying. Anger can always happen, but did you control your anger, or did your anger control you?”
“Now instead of a tantrum, he will tell someone at school what he’s feeling in descriptive words and what he needs, and they accommodate that. The tantrums have become much less common and his happiness and confidence have risen.”
“I think it’s great your daughter isn’t looking at the timeout as a bad thing, but instead recognizing how it makes her feel when she’s angry and the calm down time actually feels good, and she can do that if she needs to.”
“To some, a timeout means a punishment, but for your daughter, it seems the word timeout means, ‘Time out from my anger.'”
“If it works for her and helps her, who can say that’s wrong?” – RobotMustache
While the OP was confused about their friends’ reaction to their daughter’s taking of a break, the subReddit praised them for teaching their daughter about emotional self-regulation so young, which will surely serve her throughout the rest of her life.