As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.
One morning, my 5 year old daughter stole a lollipop from my pencil holder and hid under her quilt to eat it. Well, the lollipop was organic for those of you who know me and that we don't have any candy in the house. In fact, it was a gift and had been sitting in the cup for over a year, LOL. Anyway, her brother spilled the beans, confiscated the lollipop and then she was summoned down to answer at an inquest... me being the Judge of course. She admitted to taking the lollipop and cried, so I simply told her that it was stealing, which is haraam, and that she had to throw the rest away and face the wall for a while.
Well, somehow Allah, SWT, blessed me with some kind of clarity on the whole thing and about half an hour later I had a whole new plan. I told her to go upstairs, brush her teeth (don't want cavities from that sugar), and make wudhu. I then told her to come down with her prayer dress on. She came down wondering what she was supposed to do, so I told her it was time for duha prayer, a nawafil prayer that was extra, and that she was going to pray two rakaat and at the end while still in sujood, she was going to ask for Allah's forgiveness. I clearly told her that she needed to be clear in her mind that what she did was haraam, that she needed to feel sorry in her heart, and that she had to want to never do it again, otherwise Allah, SWT, would not forgive her. Well, she did her rakaat and that was the end of it. Her punishment was over and I felt as if I'd moved into a whole new realm of growth and learning.
The time outs don't do anything really, and we as adults don't have them. When I thought of what we must to when we err or sin, I realized that's what we must teach our children. I thought of my 2-year-old who is a clear communicator masha'Allah and have decided that I will sit down with her and make her say a dua' to seek Allah's forgiveness when she does something wrong.
I'm excited! I have a new approach for the children. If they do something that has a more concrete Islamic punishment or retribution, such as returning a stolen thing or clearing someone's name or apologizing first, then that will be done as well, but the istighfar to Allah, SWT, will be my consistent routine, bi ithn Allah. This is how I can teach the children that ultimately they must answer to Allah, SWT. This is how I can instill in them the various components necessary for tawbah. This is how I can raise them to turn to Allah, SWT, on each occasion and insha'Allah increase their taqwa.
I feel like Allah, SWT, has lifted a huge burden from me... wa al hamdu l'Illahi Rabb il Aal Ameen!