Posts Tagged: Parenting

If You Hit, You Sit

“If you hit, you sit (out)” is a great short and snappy way of remembering and offering a logical consequence to your kids for bad behaviour, such as hitting. Even better, it meets the requisite 3 R’s of consequences: respectful, related and revealed in advance.

If your find your toddler hitting, the consequence must be logical to them: “If you choose to play co-operatively you may stay here with your friends. If you choose to hit, which is unsafe, you must go somewhere else because we need to feel safe when we play together. When you decide to play without hitting we would love to have you back”.

Here’s my advice on how to use a time out (the “sit”) properly:

1. Of utmost importance: the length of time is decided by the child. Whenever they decide to choose to play without hitting they can come back.

2. The emphasis is on participating in the group with safe pro-social behaviours that meet the needs of the situation. It is about safety and other ways to problem solve, not about being “nice” or “not doing what you’re told” which is all about listening to authority figures.

3. I recommend not using the phrase “time out” as it is has a negative connotation with children.

4. I recommend the child stay close to the fun they want to get back to rather than hiking all the way to their bedroom. You want the children to be motivated to quickly decide to act differently and come back ASAP.

5. Do not have a time out chair/area – that introduces a stigma which is punitive, and speaks to having negative expectations for the child’s future behaviour. Very discouraging.

6. “One minute of time-out for every year” (often recommended by time-out proponents) is NOT a good method. If the child decides they want to come back and there is still time on the clock, they’ll spend the remaining time building resentment and anger, and the child may seek revenge.

TTFT: Take time for training

After the time out, try saying the following:

  • “Our hands are for hugging and holding” (Invites the behaviour we want to see)
  • “It is not okay to hit people. We need to feel safe when we play.” (Be clear, not angry)
  • “You need to speak up and use your words – not your hands.” (Help start problem solving through verbalizing)

Once you have said these things once – YOU ARE DONE. They are bright, they heard you. After all, how many times did you have to tell them that cookies are kept in the cookie jar on the counter?

To recap:

Offer Choice: “Can you stay and play safely or do you need to go?”

Follow Through: “I see (because you keep hitting) that you need to go” and guide them to the side of the room or someplace neutral on the sidelines of the action out of the centre of the action.

Action Not Words: Once they’ve been in this time out once, you can just take their hand and guide them to the side. No words needed.

Firm and Friendly: Watch that body language. Stay calm and composed. Your emotions, disapproval, or exasperated looks interfere with the learning.

Remember: When they choose to come back – that is fine. “Hi – I am glad you’ve chosen to come back. It’s more fun when we play all together.”

Tip: Don’t go overboard with this noticing. If you do they may decide that is enough payoff to encourage them to get themselves into time outs just so they can steal the show with a grand re-entrance! And this does happen.


About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at

Birthday Party Politics – How to Avoid That “Left Out” Feeling.

Sass birthday party

Kiddo birthday parties are a landmine.

Throwing a kids’ birthday party is high-risk behavior in the department of offending or excluding people. Clearly, no one intends to exclude kids from birthday party fun, but unless your party planning involves inviting every cousin, classmate and neighbour, there is no way around it.

If you are looking for ways to avoid that sinking feeling you get from leaving a child out, here are a few easy ways to try to prevent it:

  • Don’t send paper invitations to class. I e-mail the parents of the children coming to my kids’ birthday parties. If I don’t have an e-mail address, I send a note into the school to go home with the child simply asking the parent to contact me.
  • Back-up plan: Invite everyone. If you want to send paper invitations, probably best you plan for a big party and invite the whole crew.
  • Have a talk about not talking. Talk to your children about not discussing their birthday party outside of the actual party. No child wants to go to school on Monday to hear all the kids talking about a party that they were not at. It’s fine to have this discussion with little party-goers as well.  Remind them how they would feel – it’s a good lesson in empathy.
  • Help your kids understand. Let your children know that not everyone can go to every party. This helps them realize that it’s not personal if/when they end up as the excluded kid. Not getting an invitation doesn’t necessarily reflect the friendship – it most likely has to do with the size of party the parent has planned. Often when one of my kids is invited to a party, the parents feel obliged to invite some siblings as well. I remind the parent (and my kids) that it’s not necessary – everyone gets their turn in their own time. It’s a good lesson to learn early in life.
  • Mind the Facebook sharing. If you’re going to post birthday party pictures on Facebook, remember that some of your Facebook friends may have children who didn’t get invited to that party. While the rational mind knows that it’s no big deal, it can sting a Mama’s heart to think her little darling was not taking part in the celebration.

Keeping the politics out of parties helps to make the day a success for parents as well as kids. Have you encountered any birthday party politics since becoming a parent?  How did you deal with it?


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

Parenting Advice: Managing Screen Time For Kids

Screen Time – a Family Friend or Foe?

Oh “screen time”. Every family has a love/hate relationship with you. Sometimes you provide my kids with age-appropriate activity, fun and learning. And sometimes you hold them hostage.

Managing the amount of time kids spend on the computer and in front of the TV is an on-going issue for most families. My strategies have changed over the years. When the children were small, we had “Screenless Sundays”. When they got older and screen obsessed, I banned screens during the week entirely. I didn’t find that arrangement worked very well for us. By the time the weekend rolled around, they would screen binge. They were like those kids who are never given candy, so they sneak away and stuff their faces. Mine were stuffing their virtual faces with Minecraft.

I started the new school year with a new plan, and I have to say – it’s working! It’s really working!

Here’s the deal in our house:

  • A child can earn up to one hour of screen time a day that can be cashed in between 6:00pm and 8:00pm.
  • They earn screen time by doing the following activities: homework, reading, walking the dog, practicing an instrument, playing outside.
  • Earned time and screen time match. So if a child wants a full hour of screen time, they will have walked the dog for 15 minutes, practiced piano for 15 minutes and spent a half an hour reading. If they only do one of these activities for 10 minutes, they get 10 minutes of screen time.
  • Screen time must be “meaningful”. What is meaningful? I decide that. For my kids, it means using the computer to play Minecraft, Spore or Animal Jam. I don’t count watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft as meaningful. Each parent can define “meaningful” as they see fit.
  • I don’t include TV as “screen time”, but TV can only be watched if homework is done. Since TV is not an activity that earns them screen time, it’s not very attractive.
  • Children must self-monitor their time. If I catch them cheating, the privilege is pulled and they lose screens for the week.
  • If they have hockey or another activity during the 6:00pm – 8:00pm screen cash in time, they don’t get screens that day.


So far, so good.  How do you manage the beast at your home? Got any great tips you can share?


About the Author:

Julie Cole

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six. Happy Hockey season – grab your Hockey Label Combo today!

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