Adoption, Homeschooling, Parenting, Resources and Support

“Time In” and our “Time In Bin”

One of our family “Connecting while Correcting” strategies is using a time in/think it over/calm down chair.  After sharing a few pictures of a bin of goodies we keep by our chair on Facebook a few months back, I had several mommas ask me to tell them more about this strategy, how we use it, and what is in our bin.

A bit of background is necessary. Mark and I are total believers in Empowered to Connect (ETC) ( ETC is based on the Trust Based Intervention Model (TBRI) laid out by Dr. Karyn Purvis (

We have seen and experienced great healing and hope in our family and witnessed it in countless other families that use the principles of ETC. We have been parent trainers with ETC for over a year and most of what I share here is taught in the Empowered to Connect Parent Training Course and the ETC conferences (

…IE these are not my great ideas =).

Rather than typing out the strategies, I am going to include video clips to explain the concepts. If you don’t watch the clips you will not be able to follow my train of thought……

The heart of ETC is that connection is the goal with our kids. Therefore all correction is an opportunity for connection and building trust:

There is an “IDEAL” responses for the behavior exhibited by our kids. Watch this clip to understand more:

After we understand the idea of an IDEAL response then we move into deciding what the “level of response” should be when we are “connecting while correcting”

The first strategy in responding to behavior is to be playful.  We can playfully redirect a child for mild misbehaviors without ever “breaking stride” as Dr. Purvis states in this clip:

If a playful “try that again buddy” as Dr. Purvis says, does not get things rolling again then you can move into giving your child a choice. It would go something like this “Hey buddy you have a choice, you can put your shoes on or I can help you put them on.” or “I understand you do not want to, but it is time to do your homework you. You have a choice you can do it at the table or in your room.” or “I know you want to stay in your PJs but we need to get dressed for the day. You have a choice, you are welcome to wear this dress or these pants”…you get the idea…you are basically giving your child a “voice” and opening up the chance for them to cooperate with you and what needs to be done but give them little freedom of choice as they do what is being asked. It is very important to NOT use a consequence for one of the choices you give your kiddo….as tempting as that is =)….that is not the heart of this strategy. So you should not say, “You have a choice you can put your shoes on or you __________(fill in with a consequence or loss of privilege)”. Many of us cringe at the idea of shared power but it is vital to our kids!!!

If you and your kiddo are still not moving forward together then you can now go to a “time in”.

PLEASE do not use this as a TYPICAL TIME OUT!! That is not how this strategy is used!!! . The “time in/think it over/calm down” chair is not used as a place to punish our kids. It is used as a safe place to regulate, calm down, gather their thoughts, consider what they did, and prepare to repair the relationship. There are no timers used for how long they have to sit, because it is not a punishment.  When they are ready then the time is over. When we are able, we sit with our children while they calm down. If we can not sit with them we stay very close by and come to them calmly and compassionately when they are ready to repair. Next to the chair we have a “calming bin” full of a number of items

We included note cards for them to write or draw what they are feeling if they are not able to say it. There are sensory toys, calming toys and a book of verses and encouragement. We were careful not to put anything breakable inside in case it went flying across the room….just keeping it real =). It is safe, playful, refocusing, and calming for the kids and even allows us to fidget and play while we are waiting for them, which very often takes the heightened stress level immediately down. Frankly, there are many times the kids go to “time in” because daddy or I need a minute to take a deep breath before we are calm and ready to be available emotionally to help or kids. This “safe” calm down place has been a huge blessing to our family!!!!

I also want to add…. that after the repair has been made and you and your child are connected again then we do a “re-do”. This takes the child back to the place where the initial misbehavior happened and lets them “try it again” and do it successfully. This gives them not only the opportunity to relearn the correct and expected behavior but it gives us a chance to praise them for making a good choice, using their words to communicate needs, or responding respectfully. It is a beautiful and sweet time….even if is does take a lot of work and time to get to this point. It is WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!

Have more questions??? Feel free to ask =) or spend more time watching clips and reading great resources at



11 thoughts on ““Time In” and our “Time In Bin””

  1. I really appreciate this, and am excited to go to my first conference next month. We have adopted three children, who are now 8,8, and 12.5. We have had, and continue to have extreme behavioral issues with our 12.5 yr old. (We adopted him from Africa when he was 8.) Extreme enough that we had to remove him from the home for a short while because of safety issues. I am curious how this can be used for a teenager? I believe this will work with our 8 yr olds, but we are in a much different boat with our almost 13 yr old son. Any ideas or resources? Thank you.

  2. Lee, Are you sure it won’t work with your nearly 13 year old? We brought home a 13 year old in March (she’ll be 14 in Dec.) and I can absolutely see sitting in a chair next to her with no words just playing with these trinket toys. No words, no pressure, just time. Of course our kiddos are different and this might not work for you, but the number one thing that works for our new teen is time ins without talk until their ready. She just sits and feels my desire to be calm with her as she regulates. Did I just say that it’s perfect every time? No, no I didn’t. My best to you, Lee.

    Thank you, Tona.

  3. Lee,
    I am so glad you are coming to Nashville…I pray it will be an time of encouragement and help to you as you work with your children. I do understand where you are coming from with your 13yr old and agree with Traci (thank you for your response) that time ins can still be effective with older kids. Our kids are 12yrs(boy), 11yrs(girl), 9yrs(girl), and 8yrs(boy). Each child “does” their time in differently and we have worked hard to figure out what works best for each one. The key is to stay emotionally and physically available and ready while staying calm and compassionate. So if he would not sit and “fidget” or write, he might be willing for you to shoot some basket ball, build legos, help with a household chore, take a walk, draw a picture with him….you get the idea….just take a few moments to calm and regulate while knowing that you are with him. The reason we are such HUGE fans of ETC and Dr. Purvis is because the strategies can be individualized for each child. So much room for flexibility, creativity, connection and grace.
    Praying for you and your dear kids!!!!

  4. A great question someone asked on Facebook and I thought it was worth re-posting here-

    Kimberly asked “Can I ask a question? I love the idea of choices. How do you use that for something that needs to get done like cleaning their room without a negative consequence? I have one child that will simply tell me no and say I can just take their toys. I would rather use a choice that doesn’t have the negative consequence attached to it. In a situation like that, where something needs to get done, and it’s in a certain location, doesn’t have multiple option like clothing, how would you give them choices?”

    My response “great question and one that gets asked all the time. First it takes lots of time to get in the habit of seeing creative choices when we are used to laying out consequences. But I will say as a momma who used lots of heavy handed consequences when my oldest kids were young…I see the negative effects of it all these years later…as I think you are seeing with the room issue. Remember it is not you against your child it is you beside your child being their coach helping them accomplish what needs to be done. So you can go several ways with the room cleaning example: “Hey buddy I know it may be overwhelming or no fun to clean your room, but it needs to get done this morning, so I will give you a few choices…..”you can either clean by yourself or mommy can clean with you” or “you can clean before or after snack” or “you can clean your floor or bed first” or “you can listen to a story while you clean or I can read you a book while you work”…you get the idea. You are not saying “you have a choice to not clean and if you make that choice there is a consequence”…so I know the next question is what if they refuse or still say “no”….then you move into a think it over or time in until they are “back on track” and able to make a good choice. All the while you are helping them and listening to what they are feeling as you are asking them to do what needs to be done. Does that help????”

  5. I so needed that little refresher course today! We had a pretty rough evening last night, and this reminded me of some things I had lost sight of. I reached out to that child who was so angry a bit ago and they are completely reconnected to me now. It was a small gesture on my part but because I initiated it, they were able to apologize and repair. Everyone wins! My kiddos are 14, 11, and 11, so I do believe it works with the older ones.
    Thanks, Tona!


  6. Brilliant! Thank you for these good tips and reminders. We, too, have a child who rejects the “choice” opportunity. She either promptly and deliberately offers a third choice that doesn’t include accomplishing the goal (cleaning the room, whatever), or she goes into further meltdown. We grownups are really struggling with responding negatively. We don’t want to respond negatively and are WELL aware that it doesn’t help anything, but we’re still struggling with it, anyway. I think we’re just tired and feel “bowled over” by the weight of our kids’ issues. I need to add your blog to my blog list and start reading what you are doing with your kids to carry out the TBR parenting style. We read many adoption blogs, but only one in which the mother is relying heavily on TBR.

  7. Pingback: Time-In | Tapestry

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