I believe in time out. In this era of immediate results stemming from internet and cell phone use, taking time out can seem contrary to our evolution as a society. Reactions produced from rushed decisions can prove damaging; however this simple practice helps to create a better environment for decision making and conflict resolution.
Growing up, I was envious of my peers that were punished by a simple “time-out.” This process of sending a child to his room to “think about what you have done” only to have a rehabilitated child emerge ten minutes later seemed far fetched to me. As a child under Corporal Punishment, I witnessed first hand the effects of the attitude change that promptly followed any spanking administered by one of my parents. Although I did not realize the concept at the time, this act that created instant results has instilled a mindset that fosters a need for immediate satisfaction.
Coming home late as a teenager was one of numerous attempts made to show my independence. One particular night changed this established routine I shared with my mother. Instead of participating in my usual excuse filled dialogue, my mother simply removed my keys from my hands, and advised me to find a ride to school the next morning as she dispassionately walked away.
My state of disbelief was quickly replaced with resentment. As she retreated to her room, I began to hurl words and phrases that I hoped would cause her to hurt. I was angry and I wanted her to realize what she did was wrong, immediately. After she passively turned around and stood stoically to my remarks, only showing a sense of disappointment, I realized I was wrong. And only later, after I was able to think about what I had done, did I realize I hurt my mother.
I only gained minutes in the time between my outburst and epiphany but my feelings had changed drastically. I went from wanting her to understand that what she was doing was wrong, to wanting her to know that I did not mean what I said.
Fortunately, my mother did understand that I was speaking in rage and that event became little more than a hiccup in our relationship.
And although my mother did forgive me, I still wish that she never had to hear those words come from her son.
Clearly, time helps us to distinguish those aspects in life that are important and those that aren’t important enough to fight for. A few minutes of time out helps to clean the mind and the heart. This I believe.
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