Time-Ins Have Changed How I Parent – Here's Why You Should Try Them

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In our house, Mr. Dinger and Ms. Ringer are the dynamic duo and, in my opinion, the power couple of 2020. They’re our timers. Their dings, rings, and chimes can be heard sounding throughout our home on any given day signaling that we are doing a time-in. Introduced to me by Dr. Harvey Karp in his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, time-ins have changed our parenting.

Dr. Karp describes time-ins as the opposite of a time-out and suggests using them to raise happy, patient, cooperative children. A timer (given a cute, kid-friendly name, hence Mr. Dinger and Ms. Ringer) is set, and for the full predetermined amount of time, the parent plays or sits with the child. No distractions. No cellphones. No TV. Just full undivided attention. When the timer goes off, the activity is over, and the parent can leave the child’s side to tend to whatever they have to do. You can start a time-in at any age. We typically never set the timer for more than 30 minutes and never for fewer than five minutes. Sprinkling in these time-ins throughout the day has really helped our parenting and thwarted temper tantrums that would have otherwise arisen due to lack of attention. Besides the lack of temper tantrums, our family has fallen in love with time-ins for several reasons.

Related: My Husband and I Instituted "Parent Timeouts" and, Damn, We Needed This

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