Parents understand the concept of time out as a way to help children get a handle on unruly behaviors. However, scientific evidence, which is really support for Biblical imperatives, states that both children and adults need time outs. We need time out, not because our behavior is necessarily unruly, but because we are losing ourselves, our relationships with others and with God in the frenzy of day-to-day life.
We live in a world where we are constantly wired. There is a trinity controlling our lives and in most cases it is not the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This trinity is the three screens: television, computer and handhelds. They are rapidly eroding our ability to communicate, contemplate and rest. Researchers note the devastating impact on the development of children’s brains when they have no technology restrictions. “There’s no downtime, no alone time… for them to develop their own sense of self.” Take a look at the typical family in a restaurant and you will rarely see total engagement with the humans around them. In most instances, one or all of them will have some kind of device in their hands.
We need to (re)institute time outs, starting with parents who both model and set parameters for their children. We used to have a rule in our home – no video games on school nights (before the age of personal cell phones) and computer time was limited – bless aol for parental guidelines. We encouraged (strongly) reading (real books), games, family Bible study, creative expressions and family walks through the neighborhood after dinner. These things weren’t optional. They were expectations for being part of the family. There was white space in all of our lives. By the time our children were late teenagers, even though their schedules were busy, certain of these were ingrained in them. The word ‘bored’ was not allowed in our home and young people were expected to find entertainment that wasn’t powered by electricity or batteries. As long as there are books, papers, crayon, paint, pencils, balls to toss or kick, blankets to transform into forts or backdrops for stages, a mind that works, boredom is impossible – but that’s a topic for another day! The point of this is to reinstate time outs:
- personal time outs so one learns to sit with his/her own thoughts, digest the overload of information floating in the air, pray, rest, re-create, time to learn to be comfortable with silence for it is in this space where one can find themselves, where God speaks and ideas flow. We all need to hear from God but God will not compete for time and space. On the other hand, God will show up when invited. Time out can be an open invitation for God to visit.
- family time outs where parents and children play games (the more low tech the better), have picnics on the family room floor, go for walks, pray, worship, and get to know each other, where they can develop a sense of home as a safe harbor.
Do yourself a favor and put yourself and everyone in your house in a much-needed time out!
Brain Development In a Hyper-tech World
Developing the Child Brain
Cedarville University Torch