As a family therapist I’ve often heard parents say Time-Out doesn’t work, but as soon as we discuss further it becomes very clear that there is confusion to its purpose.


Sadly in my work I have met so many adults who can’t be alone in their own company, because it feels so uncomfortable and consequently can’t handle being single either.

Being alone equals being abandoned and punished, so to be alone = I’m bad

Relationships are then out of need – not love or desire!

In most adults this is the result of being parented inconsistently and from being sent to your room – as punishment, isolated and for no definite time as time out – like being sent to prison without any chance of parole.

Your bedroom instead of being a safe space for relaxation is then connected with punishment – (this becomes an internalized as idea of home)

Timeout is actually a tool for teaching a life skill…It is a way of gradually teaching your child to self-regulate their nervous system – learn how to self soothe, calm down and cope with their feelings, [take responsibility] so they can begin to learn how to problem solve [take responsibility and take action] and live equally in a world full of other people.


When we’re distressed, angry and afraid, especially when we are in the developmental stages of asserting our individuality as children and teenagers we have tantrums – honestly though they can happen at any age if they’ve been repressed as a child.

These are a build-up of emotional energy, which overrides the logical thinking part of the brain and is the equivalent of feeling like being chucked in a fire!

It is normal and has a purpose, but they can be scary, especially when we’re young…Part of maturing is that must learn to experience the intensity of these feelings and energy, so we can understand them and master our emotional energetic force to match our language appropriately.

This can only happen though if we experience:

I am safe in my environment even though I feel unsafe inside

That emotional energy is the power behind developing self-respect, sexual desire and attraction and being able to enforce personal space and boundaries, which allows us to have healthy, respectful relationships with other adults.

As the two women in the shop demonstrated in their lack of understanding and body language; if we don’t know how to defend our personal space we get smothered and if we are not aware of personal boundaries, we smother other people.

When time out is used as punishment; the child learns they’re only loved when nice, well behaved and compliant.

Sadly this results in teenagers and eventually adults who are both susceptible to control and domination from predators and bullies, and are afraid of their own power, unable to know their own mind and incapable of problem solving.


Time out is essential to our good mental, emotional and physical health…Taught as a life skill it creates adults who know who they are and how to respect themselves, their time and space and how they share it and who with!

They know the benefits of ‘ME’ quiet time and see it part of their daily life…Of course it is essential for anyone living in our hectic world, but especially for people who are described as being so called sensitive!

I spent most of my life being told I was too sensitive – being sensitive makes you very aware of your external environment and how other people feel and their emotional energy.

Usually it’s because you haven’t experienced enough space or safety as a child and it can leave you exhausted being around other people.

I can assure you that learning how to have down time away from other people has been my saving grace!


We all get pissed off and hurt, but that doesn’t mean the relationship is over – it’s just an argument and naturally part of any intimate relationships and it can be done healthily.

Learning to give someone or take it for yourself physical space and time to calm down, instead of losing complete control, can save a relationship.

As long as we make sure though to reconnect again when you’re both ready to talk more logically and responsibly- if perhaps still forcefully and emotionally until you can resolve the issue.

Resolving the initial issue is the essential outcome, so use timeout as an opportunity to clarify your thoughts and feelings to express them clearly.

Never use timeout as avoidance and for things to be unaddressed and brushed under the carpet as this teaches us nothing, but more avoidance and lying!


When we use timeout with young children, we stay in the same area, don’t leave, just step back a little keeping your child safe in a contained zone, but giving them space, whilst they’re in full tantrum.

Do not engage with them with verbal chat, physical contact, or eye contact as they are only expelling raging energy and cannot hear you…

They’re like a fire breathing dragon and you must be the castle walls… a solid, secure, calm physical presence!

Once they’ve calmed down enough then you use a dedicated area in the same room as you – like a small chair or bean bag, which is soft and safe that they can go and sit on to calm down completely and have some time to relax and think if they are old enough.

It is very important that once they have calmed down they get lots of eye contact, smiles and hugs to reconnect with you which demonstrates they are still loved – unconditionally!

Just like when you’re arguing with a partner…


If unfortunately you were sent to your room as punishment, shamed for having tantrums and have a fear of being abandoned, I won’t lie it can be a tricky slow road to learn how to create boundaries and self respect, as an adult, as you are having to rewire your past experiences and that takes a bit of time.

I can guarantee it is both do-able and totally worthwhile, as the outcome is self worth and becoming confident, strong and happy in your own skin, plus you might also discover some amazing new things about yourself when you allow time for just being with you – for me I discovered my love of writing.

Also by no longer accepting other peoples crap, you’re also showing them love as well as yourself…Get self focused – put your well being first!

Start with building your resources and resilience and calm yourself down to get more comfortable in your skin. Say no – in actions and words to anything that feels draining, heavy, uncomfortable or painful and remove it from your life, house or social life! Always seek to move towards what feels light, spacious, peaceful, kind and loving = safe!

Always move away from what feel wrong, tiring, painful, blaming and shaming – don’t accept being anyone or anything victim!


Remember the outcome aim is always to calm down and to feel safe, so be kind and give yourself what you need.

Sing or hum to yourself [ self soothing]
Take a warm bath – this is very calming to the nervous system [ self soothing]
Take twenty rounds of slow deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth [ self soothing]
Listening to some calming music [ self soothing]
Let yourself have a good cry [ self soothing]


Get moving and go walking/ running outside [an appropriate response to your flight instincts!]
Get moving and dance around your living room [an appropriate response to your flight instincts!]
Get moving and do some yoga – [an appropriate response to your flight instincts!]


Beat up your bed with your pillows – let yourself have a a healthy tantrum in a safe place; this will physically release the pent up energy. [an appropriate response to your fight instincts!]
Paint, scribble or Draw – creatively express your feelings [an appropriate response to your fight instincts!]
Punch the air shouting NO , or growling

It is important though to not beat yourself up and get cross if you get a bit upset or distressed, instead understand that this is an opportunity to learn how to self soothe and can confidence, which as a child you were supposed to.

When you become more comfortable with being in your own skin and in your personal space, then you will find it much easier to cope with some negativity or stress, but will automatically choose less and less of it in your life, because you are supposed to move away from pain not towards it and it is not part of a healthy loving life or relationship!

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This article was written by Jo Warwick, energy healer and licensed therapist. Visit Jo at and!


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