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Why I Don’t Believe in Time Out

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Why I Don’t Believe in Time Out

“Time Out” has been used as a popular punishment strategy for quite some time among modern day parents.

Which is exactly why I don’t like it.

Not because its popular, but because of the “p” word, “punishment”. I think a lot of people completely misunderstand the point of time out.

In my view, time out should be used as an opportunity for the child (and the parent!) to take a few moments to calm down from a situation where one (or both) of them has become worked up.

It’s a time where both parent and child can take a few deep breaths and collect themselves.

I don’t think it should be a scenario that looks kind of like this:

“That’s it! You’re going to time out!!” you scream as you march your little one over the corner, plonk them down and tell them not to move for 5 minutes “or else” there’ll be trouble.

In my mind, the scenario looks a little more like:

“I can see you are angry about x, y z, move away for some quiet time and once you are calm we can talk about it” as you gently navigate them towards a comfortable cool down spot where they can collect themselves.

Once you are both calm, then it’s an appropriate time to;

  • discuss the situation
  • reflect on behaviours displayed
  • agree on appropriate behaviours for the future
  • discuss any consequences that are relevant to how the situation unfolded

But, that’s just my opinion (and since I don’t have a crystal ball telling me what I would actually do in a real-life scenario with my own kids), I’m keen to know…

– What do you think about “time out”?
– What are the rules for “time out” in your house?
– Is it used as a “punishment” or an opportunity to cool down?

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

P.S. Would you like to learn about new some new behaviour strategies? For strategies on everything from toddler tantrums to teenage attitudes, click here!

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Download our App “Parenting Therapy” in the iTunes App Store!

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7 Replies to “Why I Don’t Believe in Time Out”

  1. One of the teachers I worked with had a “Contemplation Corner” in her room. The reason I liked it is because, on the wall in that corner, were some of the tools from their social-emotional curriculum. A lot of times, kids exhibit behaviors without realizing that they may be inappropriate. Having this little corner not only gave them the space to THINK about what to fix, but also gave them the tools to help them fix it.

    1. Love the idea of the “Contemplation Corner” Divya! I like how there are some tools to help the children work out what they could do differently next time 😉

  2. Time outs remind me of old west school rooms where the bad child sat in front of the class with a dunce cap on his head. It’s not realistic. Thanks for a better way to parent.

  3. I love the idea of a Contemplation Corner! I wish I could remember if my parents actually put me in a time out or not but maybe that’s the beauty of parenting–most of these things we THINK are really bad for kids, they won’t remember one day anyway 🙂

    1. You’re probably right about kids not remembering a lot of things Charlotte, which is good from the point of view of reducing stress over doing the “right” or “wrong” thing, or feeling guilty over actions taken in the heat of the moment at times, but I think it’s also important to remember that even if the child can’t remember certain experiences or things the parent has or hasn’t done, what ever they actually do paves the way for future behaviours and coping mechanisms later in life.

  4. This is so true! As a counselor, I encourage our teachers to have cool down spots for kids need some time to reflect/calm down/etc (with calming jars, timers, calming apps). Time out is ineffective for sure, but a space to clear the minds is great.

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