Do timeouts work? The pros and cons

Do timeouts work? The pros and cons

As with so many questions about children and discipline, there is no sure answer to this question. Experts on both sides of the debate agree that time out works for some kids and doesn’t work for others. And some parents are great at implementing it, and some are not. What experts agree on is that it can be a good tool in a parent’s discipline toolkit, if done correctly.

The professionals

When a child is misbehaving, most parents and experts would agree that removing the child from the situation is a good idea. It allows the misbehaving child a chance to calm down and redirect and allows the other children to continue their activity without distractions. It also allows the parent or caregiver the opportunity to explain to the offending child what they were doing wrong and the expected appropriate behavior.

Here are the key ways to ensure time out works according to proponents:

  • Parents need to talk about appropriate behavior often with children, not just when things go wrong. Without this prior knowledge, children have no idea what they have done wrong that warranted a time out.
  • Use them sparingly. They cannot be used for all violations or become ineffective. Like any discipline issue with a child, choose your battles wisely.
  • The time period must be appropriate for the child, the age of the child, and the nature of the offense. Many proponents recommend one minute per year of age, but it is probably more effective if the timeout corresponds to the offense. It’s not fair to have the same punishment for big and small problems.
  • Talk to the child when the time out is over. This is the time to reassure the child that you love him no matter what, but that some behaviors are not acceptable. Be short and concise.
  • Never threaten a timeout and don’t do it. This will completely undermine the authority of the parents. Even if the situation may be embarrassing, it’s best to follow up each time.
  • If a child throws a tantrum, bites, kicks, or screams, be prepared to move on no matter what. If not, the child has learned what to do to make the parent give up.

The cons

Those who disagree with the use of timeouts also have strong arguments. They point out that the tactic is often used inconsistently and is therefore ineffective; They also note that young children often have no idea why they have been placed in a time out. They argue that if the child has no idea why the punishment was given, the punishment is useless. The main evidence that the child does not understand the punishment is that when most children return from time out, they repeat the same offense.

Reasons not to use time out

  • The child may be too young to “get it.” If a child does not understand that removal from the game is related to some bad behavior, the tactic is useless.
  • The boy strongly resists. If a parent has to force a child to stay in the designated spot, constantly return the child to the punishment spot, or fight with the child to get there, this form of discipline may not be appropriate. It could turn into a constant escalation (longer) where the parent has to keep an eye on the child, ending with everyone angry and unhappy.
  • Most parents do not apply it constantly. Many parents threaten it and do not comply.
  • The redirect works just as well for most children. Most children respond to being gently redirected to other activities or behaviors if given the opportunity.

Regardless of a parent’s position on the use of timeouts, one thing is clear: If a child is ruining an event for others or is doing something that could cause harm to the child or others, removing the child is the only answer. .

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