Posts Tagged ‘Behavior’

Social Emotional Skills, Something to Think About

Monday, December 7th, 2015

AUTHOR: Erika Pozo Fiorilo, Early Childhood Specialist

What is the difference between Time-Out and a Safe Place?  Time-Out in its everyday meaning is an act of discipline to help change behavior; however, incorporating a Safe Place into the classroom environment is a way of teaching that empowers children to make decisions that are ethical, intelligent, and socially responsive. (Gartell, 2011)

Our Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines are written to help us to intentionally plan and create a classroom environment for our students to experience positive guidance in the PK classroom.  In the PK classroom, “guidance” specifically means:

  • teaching children to learn from their mistakes
  • teaching children to solve problems
  • empowering children to be capable learners and understand they are an important part of the classroom community
  • planning intentionally for interactive learning environments where children construct meaning for their actions and choices
  • celebrating differences and establishing pride in their personal and cultural identities
  • creating a healthy balance of both academic learning alongside that of social emotional development
  • upholding classroom rules consistently throughout the school year

Time-Out vs. Safe Place

Instead of Time-Out, you might consider the use of a Safe Place in your classroom.  Dr. Becky Bailey proposed the idea of a Safe Place, outlined in her book Conscious Discipline.  The Safe Place offers a positive alternative form of classroom guidance as opposed to the traditional act of Time-Out.  While Time-Out may be effective with some students, this form of classroom management doesn’t really teach the student to prevent the behavior from recurring again.  It just teaches the child that if the behavior occurs again they will be missing out on valuable instructional time or play.  A Time-Out doesn’t offer students the opportunity to learn independent social skills, while a Safe Place gives students coping strategies they can use to refer back to when a similar incident occurs again.

Below are ideas for a Safe Place you can design for your students

  • Soft stuffed animals for hugging
  • Books that highlight feelings and emotions
  • Teacher-created sentence stems
  • Items to manipulate, such as sensory bottles, to help children calm down and relieve their own emotions
  • Stress balls
  • Puzzle of feelings
  • Pictures modeling appropriate behaviors in social situations
  • Posters with visual cues to guide children through the calming process

The overall goal for creating a Safe Place is for children to independently learn how to control their own emotions and to give them the strategies they need to use when they find that they are angry, sad, nervous, disappointed, etc. Teaching children how to keep themselves in control in different social settings will help them enormously throughout their schooling and personal lives. Using a variety of strategies and tools will help students to learn about self-care, self-control, and self-discipline. The Safe Place can be the foundation for students to learn these necessary tools of self-regulation for a lifetime.


Gartell, D. 2011. Children who have serious Conflicts, Part 2: Instrumental Aggression. Young Children, 58-60.

Bailey, B. A. 2000.  Conscious Discipline: 7 Basic Skills for Brain Smart Classroom Management. Oviedo, Florida: Loving Guidance