There’s a hot debate over whether or not time-outs are an effective behavior strategy. As a parent reading this, you may immediately get defensive when reading the research, tapping into a “I’m not good enough” mindset. Stop, take a deep breath and read this for the information presented that I’ve gathered from a few different studies and take what you want and leave the rest.
What is a time-out? A time-out is meant to serve as a pause between a child and caregiver.
It’s a time to allow a child to regain composure and to calm down from an intense emotional reaction. Pediatrics professor Edward Christopherson says “Time-out isn’t a chair, it isn’t a corner and it’s not a length of time.” The problem is that today, the basic strategy of a time-out has turned into a shaming tactic to make the child feel bad about their behavior. Remember the point is to give them a chance to calm down/self regulate and make better choices. Having them sit in a “bad chair” says they are a bad kid in a bad chair. When it is actually normal for a child to misbehave, make a bad choice and sometimes have an outburst. It is a behavior and those behaviors can be changed which do not make that child a bad kid.
Something interesting I found in this survey was that toddlers and preschoolers do not respond as well as school aged children when it comes to discipline strategies that rely on empathy and reasoning because of the necessary logic involved.
Child Development specialists say that a designated time-out space like a chair, is shaming to a child. Think back to the old days when children wore dunce caps or were asked to place their nose in the chalk circle of a blackboard.
The experts say the best way to use time-out is to use it as it was designed, a chance for the child to redirect and regain control of their emotions. It’s also important to have a number of strategies to go to when a child is making bad choices. One strategy may work when your child is two and another when they are three!
How do you know what other discipline strategies to use (like positive reinforcement) become educated. Parenting is not accompanied with a manual. Surround yourself with parents who have education on the topic and experience. Listen to parenting podcasts on the topic. Join our FREE Parent and Educators group called Empowering Kids With Character.
Content here is opinion only. Consult with a health professional for more information.
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