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why you do or don't do time-outs...

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Another thread got me thinking about this.

I am not sold on the idea of time outs, but I do do them for major offenses because I feel I need some recourse when my dd is being really out of control.

She is two and she hits sometimes, yells sometimes, does things we ask her not to over and over again in a very short period of time.

So I give her short time outs, probably do one every.single.day!

So why do you do them and why do you not? I need some perspective here!

What would my recourse be if I didn't do them? Because some of her behavior is just not acceptable!
post #2 of 22
I'm interested, too. My DD just turned 2, so it's all been redirection to this point, but just recently we've had some moments where I've had to remove her from a situation (like when she was repeated running across the road at my aunt's house -- a dead end deserted road, but still). I took her inside and sat with her while she fussed. Then I explained that she has to LISTEN when mama says "stop" because it's not safe to run across the street. So I'm thinking time outs with me -- away from a place that she'd clearly rather be --are ok?

From what I understand, time outs are a bad idea because they communicate lack of love and abandonment.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
I get the idea behind why some people don't do them, I guess I am more looking for what real people do in the real moments and why, y'know?

I mean, for me, the alternative is possibly yelling or something, because I need a recourse for the action....the time out gives me the feeling that I am doing something.

And isn't there a healthy level of shame? I mean, there are just some things that are not done. I don't feel bad giving her a clear signal that what she has done was wrong. I just want it to be a clear understanding and I don't know if I'm sure that time out is....


parenting. I love you, but I a little bit loathe you sometimes too!
post #4 of 22
I don't do timeouts or any punishment for a few reasons. For one, it teaches kids to "behave" for self centered reasons, ie. "I won't hit because I don't want a time out" vs. "I won't hit because Mom doesn't like to be hit."
Secondly, punishment acts as sort of a payment for the misbehavior, so that the slate is clean. Kids don't have to feel bad about how their behavior affected someone else, because they've already done their time.
Also, (and this is the most difficult to explain) by punishing, you are sending a message that you don't think they would choose on their own to behave in a socially acceptable way. Even if they don't really get that message, you do. And it almost becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.
I work on the theory that kids try to meet their impulses in the best way they know how and are able to.

I would like to say here that I *totally* get feeling better about doing something. lol

It's sort of hard to come up with, in one post, what one does instead of punishing. But here's the basic steps I followed when trying to get ds1 to stop doing something:
1. Give information- tell them what you want them to stop/not do and why. Tell them how their actions affect others.
2. Honor the impulse- figure out the impulse behind it. There's a reason.
3. Redirect in a way that honors the impulse- let them know a socially acceptable way of expressing the impulse. Sometimes you have to be very very specific!

So it might look like this (based on a real event lol):
Ds: (hits me with a book.)
Me: Don't hit me. I don't like to be hit. If you want my attention, just say "Mom!"
Ds: (hits me again with the book)
Me: Don't! I don't like to be hit. (I realize it wasn't just an attention thing) If you want me to read to you, give me the book.
Ds: (hits me again)
Me: DO NOT HIT!!! (ok, fine, I yelled. but then I realize I need to be VERY specific) If you want me to read to you, put the book in my hand, like this.
Ds: (puts the book in my hand and never hits me with a book again)

I got most of my ideas from the book Becoming the Parent You Want to Be.
I really like this Jan Hunt article as well. Looking Past the Behavior
Both explain what I'm trying to say MUCH better than I am.

Hitting is my hot button. Totally not acceptable. I was NOT nice in response to hitting, and I let my unhappiness show in my voice. I never did the "talk sweetly to them" about hitting/hurting others. Ds1 knew I meant business.
post #5 of 22
DS-5yo is highly volatile & sometimes DH makes him sit at bottom of stairs until DS calms down & apologises (typically 4 aTTEmpting to brick his sister or similar).

I don't send DS into Time-Out, but I think DH needs that method or he'd be tempted to be violent back to DS (DH's biological father was a hitter).

We didn't send DS1 or DD into time out, very occasionally I banish them to their rooms for a few minutes. They were different personalities, though.

time-outs for DS2 is a relatively recent thing for us,to be honest, at under 4-5yo I think you should be able to usually manage without TOs, we just scolded, or talked a lot with them.
post #6 of 22
wow DEVA you have the patients of a saint! my lo is only 6 weeks but I am just imagining what would have happened to ME as a child if I would have done that...whoa nelly look out.

i was just reading (because disciplining hasn't been an issue yet) but still wanted to hear what others were doing.

post #7 of 22
I do use a variation of Time Out for certain things. But mostly for my oldest (she just turned 7 last week). Sometimes she gets such an attitude and quite frankly I can only attempt to talk to her calmly for so long before it gets to be TOO MUCH and I end up telling her "Why don't you go sit in your room for a few minutes to calm down and then we'll talk about it?" I don't force her to sit in her room, I don't make her stay there for a specified amount of time. This is at the point when I need a break from her AND she needs a break from me (or Mommy is going to 'lose it'!!)

I've worked with her a lot though on expressing herself through drawing (especially when she was younger) and writing. So most of the time when she goes to her room I'll give it 5 minutes or so and then I go up to talk to her... and she's written a page (or 3) in her journal about how mean and unfair I am or drawn a picture that she then explains to me. Then we usually have a good talk about whatever it was that she was upset about.

I did not start doing Time Outs with her until she was 4 or so... and I've never really called them Time Outs. If she's out of control then we need a little space and I think that's an appropriate thing to teach her in the long run: "If you are getting mad or upset it's time to walk away and take a break."

I have on occasion done the same with younger DD, who is 4 yrs old... asked her to go to her room for a bit so we can both calm down. More often with her I tend to excuse myself saying "I need a little break for just a minute because I'm getting upset" and walking into MY room for a few minutes. (DH works from home so it's not like the munchkins aren't supervised.)

DS (2 1/2) would have no clue why I put him in Time Out... so I redirect, rearrange the furniture, put things up higher, put child proof locks on cabinets and closet doors, try to give him "helper" tasks to keep him busy when he wants to help me cook dinner (he's really good at finding cups and putting them in the sink) and really just not letting him out of my sight.

post #8 of 22
I didn't want to do time-outs, but just can't figure out how to handle my almost 3 year old most of the time lately. For example tonight:

I have a very bad sinus infection, and therefore a horrid sinus headache and he was screaming. I said, "You may not scream, do you want mama to talk to you?" He said, "no" then screamed again. I said, "That hurts my head when you scream, it is not ok, do you need something?" He again said "no" and screamed again and then hit me on the head. At that point, I put him in a time-out. I sat him on his bottom and walked away for a minute.

He also will argue over every.single.thing.that.we.talk.about. If I say "please put your boots on", he will say, "I can't", or "I don't want to", or "I want to wear my sandals" (we have about 3 inches of snow right now). It all turns into a battle of wills, and eventually, I occasionally get tired of fighting and either put him in time-out or force him to just do it. Not a good strategy, but occasionally, things just need to get done.

I will definitely be watching this thread for ideas!
post #9 of 22
I haven't done time-outs but I'm not opposed to them per se. I haven't done it because I haven't really needed to but I am open to the option if a situation leads that way. I know many wonderful parents who have used time-outs or a variation of time-outs. I think it depends on the child -- no one thing or method works on every child.

Having said that, I will say that, honestly, I think 2 years old is too young for a time out. I think time-outs only work if the child is old enough to understand the purpose. A 2 y/o simply doesn't understand the point. If you're really doing a time-out every day then you might want to reevaluate your purpose and how successful your method really is.
post #10 of 22
Originally Posted by sunnykbird View Post
wow DEVA you have the patients of a saint!
um... in the interest of space (because I tend to write way to much blah blah blah) I left out that before all that, I got so mad that I left him in the room, with him crying. (like I said, hitting is my hot button.) I probably yelled at him in there too. I didn't mean to make it sound like I'm all good. lol
Though I probably should have put that in- the "time out" didn't fix the hitting. (which it wasn't a TO in that it was intentional or done as a punishment- but that doesn't affect the way he experienced it. It was either leave or do something that I'd regret doing) Paying attention to his motive and giving him an acceptable way to express himself DID fix it.

But I did a good job a lot of the time, in a large part due to having my list of steps I take, and with contantly reminding myself of some of my thoughts on kids and development, etc. I've been anti-punishment from the get go pretty much. I always thought that my methods and ideas were sound, so that helped me get back on track even when I got off track. It also really helped that dp is super duper gentle, and I always HATED telling him that I yelled or anything like that.
post #11 of 22
We did a few timeouts when ds was almost 3 and was hitting me a LOT. The reason: Nothing else worked, and the first time we did a time out, it reduced the hitting by about 80%. I didn't hit him back, so I felt okay with the time out, but not great about it--it was like the lesser of two evils I guess. He was hitting me, which was not okay by age 3, and I never hit him, so the time out meant we both got to live without being hit---anyway that was my logic at the time It was not fun though, it upset ds, and upset me to do it, so I never recommend it as a first step, but more as a last resort for serious offenses.
post #12 of 22
Originally Posted by AmyKT View Post
I'm interested, too. My DD just turned 2, so it's all been redirection to this point, but just recently we've had some moments where I've had to remove her from a situation (like when she was repeated running across the road at my aunt's house -- a dead end deserted road, but still). I took her inside and sat with her while she fussed. Then I explained that she has to LISTEN when mama says "stop" because it's not safe to run across the street. So I'm thinking time outs with me -- away from a place that she'd clearly rather be --are ok?

From what I understand, time outs are a bad idea because they communicate lack of love and abandonment.
That's a time in because you are with her. I've also taken my DD some where else to calm down and then talked with her about the situation. We don't do timeouts or punishments of any kind. I also think suggesting an older child go to their room until they calm down or is fine too. With hitting or being rough I say "I don't let people hurt me" and I get up. When DD, 4 years old now, was much younger I did the whole 'touch gentle' thing, modeling a gentle touch and stuff. Sometime after she turned 2.5 I expected her to realize what she was doing more though. I've also at times asked her 'what are doing' if she looked like she was going to hit. Then we'd talk about better things we could do.
post #13 of 22
I've given dd (2.5yrs) one time-out so far. It worked and when she misbehaves all I have to do is say, "Would you like to sit in the time-out chair? If you don't do xyz, you're getting a time out". Then she complies with what I need her to do.

The time out we did was over her not wanting to get dressed. I was getting ready for work and her dad was coming soon to get her. She threw a fit and fought me to get dressed. Finally, I took her kitchen chair and put it against the wall and told her she needed to sit there until she decided to get dressed. I used a calm voice and told her we needed to chill out and relax for a little bit (she was tired and hungry--lunch was in the oven). I stayed in the kitchen with her, tending to chores. She didn't cry, just sat there like she was told. I don't know how long it took her, but she decided quickly that she would get dressed, after she requested a hug.

I'm not opposed to doing more time outs. I won't banish her to a corner or degrade her in anyway. It's more of a chill out and calm down time and I will stay with her while in time out.

New problems arise everyday. Figuring out what I need to do to get her to comply is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of thing....while still making it to work on time, yk? If time outs work, then so be it. I don't have time for child psychology all the time. Mama says get dressed, you get dressed. Mama says it's time to brush teeth, by golly....it's time to brush teeth! End of discussion.
post #14 of 22
Sometimes my DD will get in these awful fits if she doesn't get what she wants. Where she will scream like a banshee. So I tell her she either needs to sit on the couch or go in her room until she calms down.

I feel like this is the only thing I can do without me flipping out on her. Her whining really gets to me. So instead of yelling or hitting this is the only thing that works for me.
post #15 of 22
We do time outs because there are times that ds (3.5) or dd (1.5) just need to be away from whatever situation is upsetting/angering them.
post #16 of 22
My DD isn't quite two yet, but we've never done time-outs and I don't intend to.

Like a pp said, it's only a time-out if you are leaving them alone...I have frequently used (and love using) time-ins, where I sit WITH DD and help her calm down (even if that involves gentle physical restraint). With most things, I can just redirect. For hitting, I say "gentle touch" and show her. For screaming, I say, "whisper like a butterfly," and she does. IME, more than half of the inappropriate behavior at this age is more because they don't know it's inappropriate, or they're only just learning that it's inappropriate, than because they're testing limits or whatever. They're still figuring out what actions are ok and what aren't, and they aren't necessarily sure whether things change from day to day. It's all about understanding the need behind the impulse and trying to meet the need. Trying to shape/change the behavior by punishment/negative reinforcement (which is what a time-out technically is) is not effective in developing self-discipline and empathy.
post #17 of 22
I didn't with my now 10 year old and won't with my now 11 month old as he grows. An interesting question to ask about time-outs is why they work so well. I think it's because they are afraid of being left alone, withdrawn, feeling the loss of our love (their perception, not our intention). I think time-outs seem harmless to us but I imagine from the child's eyes they are scary and lonely. Personally, I'm the type of person who does NOT do well being left alone or ignored when I'm upset, out of control or "irrational"; it just makes me more enraged and/or despondent. I think that many children are like that; it's not helpful to them - instead they feel abandoned or left alone with their difficult feelings that they don't know how to handle.

I also think they become very inneffective once a kid learns to say no or rebel against them; for a kid who refuses to comply with their time-out, they can quickly escalate into a physical power struggle. I try as hard as I can not to enforce things through physical means that I couldn't get an older, stronger kid to do. This is not iron-clad of course, because I have to use my greater physical strength often to get my baby dressed, to hold them back from a dangerous situation, etc. But I try to avoid it unless necessary.
post #18 of 22
We don't do time outs or punishments. Mostly I just don't want to get into it w/ my kid, but I also believe that I am here to help & guide her, not just reprimand her. If she is doing something "bad", I try and figure out why & help her understand why she cannot have what she wants (like brownie number five) or why she needs to stop doing something (like hitting me). She already understands "nice touches", so if she is hitting me, I tell her that she needs to be nice to Mama. She can yell or hit her toys, not people. If she wants something she cannot have, I use the phrasing from Between Parent and Child of "You wish that you could have/do abc. It would taste good/be so much fun, etc. But you cannot b/c xyz and that makes you upset/sad/angry. You get mad and cry; that is okay. Do you need a hug?" With my friends' kids, who are usually older, I will have them sit w/ me, or I will kneel in front of them, & I will explain why they cannot do what they just did (usually hitting). I use social referencing, like "It hurts and makes boo-boos," or, "It scares her and she will run away." The only difference I have seen between doing this and giving a time-out is that when I talk to them, there is no power struggle and no crying. Toddlers have little self-control, so they are going to hit. Do I really want to fight w/ a 2-yr-old over hitting? No.

I used to really like time-outs, but I have read more and have gotten more experience w/ kids over the years. I see them as a good step for parents who would otherwise spank their kids or who have kids who are way out of control (a la Super Nanny). Time-outs are way better than spanking or mass chaos any day. So, while I am not a fan of time-outs anymore, I do not jump to conclusions about other parents b/c I would rather see a kid sitting in a corner for a few minutes than one getting spanked or running around like crazy danger
post #19 of 22
We don't use timeouts on DD who is 2.5. If she does something that I don't like I quickly go to her, kneel down and make sure we are looking at each other. From there I might say "We don't hit. You hit me and it really hurt me." In a situation like that I will ask what she thinks might make things better, and she will say sorry... and I get her to say "I am sorry that I hit you".. to make sure that she understands what she is saying sorry for. I don't do forced apologies but so far she actually seems to enjoy apologizing. I say sorry to her several times each day, which I think helps. If I lose my temper, I will go up to her and tell her "I am sorry I got mad at you, it wasn't your fault mommy felt frustrated."

If DD does something like try to mix spices with the water she is playing with (happened this morning). I will again get down to her level and explain why we don't do X, and aknowledge her feelings (she wants to play with it and it is fun). For example I gave her two reason's this morning 1./ If she uses them all up Daddy won't be able to make a yummy dinner and 2./ I let her smell some of the stinkier, hotter ones and asked her if she wanted to play with them (no was the answer). Sometimes she will accept, and sometimes she will have a cry, but more and more she seems to be accepting.

My DD is quite strong willed and extremely determined but I would say this is working very well for us and I have never felt the need to try something else.

I really like the book "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen..." it gave me lots of ideas on how to communicate with DD, "Playful Parenting" and Barbara Coloroso's book (can't remember the title). Reading lots of books has made me feel like I have a full "toolbox" of skills to deal with DD's behaviour.
post #20 of 22
this is something that interests me alot. my boy is almost 4yo and have never done time-outs. but i do tell him to go to his room, or sit on the couch or werever he can be by himself to calm down so we can talk in a civilized manner. but it´s not a punishment, its a way for him to calm down without bothering everyone else around him. now, whenever he gets abgry and doesn´t look for a hug, he gos off by himself and when calm, comes back nad we can talk. this works for us but i don´t do it as a punishment.

i sometimes want to try a time-out...but i never get to it! and i do loose my temper and i do scream, and also ask for his forgiveness and hope the same from him. i´m human
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