Do you use Time-out? They’re certainly better than spanking to show your child you’re serious about whatever limit you’re setting. But time-out isn’t the best way to help kids want to cooperate, or even to help them calm down. Why?
1. Time-outs don’t teach children to regulate their emotions.
You’re giving your child the message that his emotions are unacceptable in your presence – and that he’s all alone to learn to manage them. That means he’ll stuff his emotions, which puts them out of conscious control. So they pop out later–uncontrolled–and he repeats the bad behavior.
2. Time-outs put kids on the defensive, so real remorse is less likely.
No child sits in time out reviewing her mistakes and vowing to do better. She sits in timeout reviewing how she’s misunderstood and it’s all someone else’s fault.
3. Time-outs create power struggles.
Most kids don’t go to time-out and sit for the allotted time without threats. Those power struggles infect the rest of your relationship.
4. Treats Only the Symptoms
Time-outs are really only band-aid solutions for more deep seated issues. If you are trying to punish aggressive behaviour or hitting with a time-out, you are really not getting a chance to understand the root cause of this symptomatic behaviour. By connecting with your child, sitting down and hearing them out, you will get to understand the real intention behind their actions. Empathy and compassion is key. Extreme punishment, such as spanking or grounding for six months, teaches kids you should treat yourself harshly when you do something wrong. This offers little instruction on what to do when similar difficulties again arise. Kids then grow up to be harshly self-critical, which saps energy and motivation levels, and can undermine their quality of life.
5. Time-outs shame kids and make them feel like they’re bad people who must be punished.
Research has clearly established that children live up–or down–to our expectations.
6. Your child concludes that you’re not on her side.
The result? She’s less likely to WANT to cooperate with you and more likely to misbehave.
7. Child Is Not Empowered
When you tell a child what to do using discipline, you are ultimately calling into question their self-esteem. By telling a child what to do, you are discouraging them from thinking for themselves and developing decision making characteristics and self-worth. By “punishing” them with 5 minutes of silence and isolation, they are now going to continue to look to you, the parent, for direction anytime a tough situation arises, rather than think for themselves. They are disempowered from making their own decisions, and are disconnected from the behaviour that you are trying to discourage. Sure, you will need to let them simmer down from a tantrum or tears before discussing the issues they are having. For older children, they will harbour a resentment towards controlling, aggressive or angry parents that don’t let them think for themselves. Excessive use of discipline and separation technique such as time-outs will often result in teenagers who become disconnected, withdrawn to the point where they will eventually “rebel” away from any kind of connection with their parents. The key is to keep the dialogue going, and always work on your relationship.
Luckily, you don’t need to use time-outs. There’s an alternative – time-in!
Time-in is not a punishment. It gives children important emotional contact and is more effective than time-out, which actually isolates the child more. It’s also a way of meeting your child’s needs so he doesn’t have to act out. During the time-in, parents are encouraged to empathize with the child’s feelings and often just quiet connection is all that is needed until the storm has passed. It doesn’t mean that you must let your child continue with a behavior that is inappropriate. The time-in gives you the opportunity to really connect and then address whatever change needs to be made. Time-in discipline requires placing the child in close proximity to a calming and caring adult caregiver for a certain period of time, either being held, sitting nearby or talked with. Adult-child interactions should include hugs, nurturing touch and eye-to-eye talking to enhance the sense of emotional connection and social caring. Avoid shaming, blaming and punitive discipline measures at all costs.