or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › enlighten me - what's wrong with time outs?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

enlighten me - what's wrong with time outs? - Page 9

post #161 of 185
I just wanted to post to say that I am as always puzzled by the posts that seem to make the "learn by wanting to avoid punishment/learn by wanting to do the right thing" a zero-sum dichotomy. I don't think that is how the vast majority of humankind work, being entirely motivated by one or the other. Rather we are motivated by both or either depending on the situation.

Take the speed limit, which another pp brought up. I understand that it is there for safety reasons. For the most part, I respect it because of that understanding. However there are times when I am in a hurry, or when I am on a really deserted, straight road and I believe I can safely drive over the speed limit, that I may not be inclined to respect it for safety reasons. In those cases, I am inclined to respect the speed limit for fear of having to pay a ticket. I don't mind the fact that the speed limit is there; as a matter of fact, I appreciate it because for the most part I do that such laws make our society a safer place to live. I think it is utopian to think that everyone will simply "do the right thing".

My philosophy with my dd is that I always try the consensual stuff first. We talk, we brainstorm, we negotiate. Sometimes her behavior is still rude and disrespectful. Sometimes I can't find out the reason behind it, or maybe it's a reason that I CAN'T fix for her (she wishes we could move back to the US, that is a big one, and that just isn't going to happen right now). I sympathize and talk about what she can do when she is feeling sad etc etc. But occasionally when I can see that she simply is not motivated to change at this moment I also institute a gentle system of punishment, such as points or going to her room until she is calm and can be respectful.

She understands the reasons, but sometimes, just like me with the speed limit, she needs an extra little push to work towards behaving well when she'd really rather not. Imposing a "punishment" does NOT mean that she (or I) don't understand the principle behind the expectation. It simply reinforces it in the occasions that is necessary.

I do understand that there are parents who just punish without ever explaining or teaching. But it would be a gross stereotype to assume that every parent who punishes is like that.
post #162 of 185
subbing
post #163 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I just wanted to post to say that I am as always puzzled by the posts that seem to make the "learn by wanting to avoid punishment/learn by wanting to do the right thing" a zero-sum dichotomy. I don't think that is how the vast majority of humankind work, being entirely motivated by one or the other. Rather we are motivated by both or either depending on the situation.

Take the speed limit, which another pp brought up. I understand that it is there for safety reasons. For the most part, I respect it because of that understanding. However there are times when I am in a hurry, or when I am on a really deserted, straight road and I believe I can safely drive over the speed limit, that I may not be inclined to respect it for safety reasons. In those cases, I am inclined to respect the speed limit for fear of having to pay a ticket. I don't mind the fact that the speed limit is there; as a matter of fact, I appreciate it because for the most part I do that such laws make our society a safer place to live. I think it is utopian to think that everyone will simply "do the right thing".

My philosophy with my dd is that I always try the consensual stuff first. We talk, we brainstorm, we negotiate. Sometimes her behavior is still rude and disrespectful. Sometimes I can't find out the reason behind it, or maybe it's a reason that I CAN'T fix for her (she wishes we could move back to the US, that is a big one, and that just isn't going to happen right now). I sympathize and talk about what she can do when she is feeling sad etc etc. But occasionally when I can see that she simply is not motivated to change at this moment I also institute a gentle system of punishment, such as points or going to her room until she is calm and can be respectful.

She understands the reasons, but sometimes, just like me with the speed limit, she needs an extra little push to work towards behaving well when she'd really rather not. Imposing a "punishment" does NOT mean that she (or I) don't understand the principle behind the expectation. It simply reinforces it in the occasions that is necessary.

I do understand that there are parents who just punish without ever explaining or teaching. But it would be a gross stereotype to assume that every parent who punishes is like that.
Well said!
post #164 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by ikesmom View Post
ME TOO!
He doesn't get the idea that I have boiling lava in my veins at the moment.
still reading the thread for the first time but i LOVE this image. that's exactly what it feels like!
post #165 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I just wanted to post to say that I am as always puzzled by the posts that seem to make the "learn by wanting to avoid punishment/learn by wanting to do the right thing" a zero-sum dichotomy. I don't think that is how the vast majority of humankind work, being entirely motivated by one or the other. Rather we are motivated by both or either depending on the situation.
I think most (?) people are responding to the recent research by Kohn, et al, which suggests that the "avoiding punishment motivation" hinders the "wanting to do the right thing motivation."

So it's not necessarily that one precludes the other, but that given the likelihood that one will undermine the other, it seems that that's a risk many aren't willing to take.

But, it's been a long thread, so maybe I'm missing something.
post #166 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
That's a good point. It's funny that I've always considered myself to be anti-parent-imposed consequence, yet my reaction to that would be, "Yikes! Look at the wall! We need to figure out how to get this fixed!" and then involving my son in the clean-up/repair. Hmmm.
And, assuming the best possible intent from children, they would joyfully start to help you clean up, UNLESS they have some other unmet needs that are preventing them from being cooperative (maybe the ones that caused them to draw on the wall in the first place - attention? connection? creative expression?) and when my child says "no" I try to imagine WHY they would say no and get to the bottom of the unmet needs. When I am able to meet the need, the cooperative child magically returns!

Requesting involvment with clean-up is different than demanding it. With a request the parent is willing to hear "no" as an answer. It's works in my house.

Kind of like this article:
Hearing The Yes in the No

When we get home from the store, all of my children take a bag of groceries inside, they are not asked to, just simply handed a bag. Once in awhile a kid will not take his bag and he is asked to - he might then say "no, I don't feel like taking the bag in" and that's A OK with us because 1. they do it almost all the time happily 2. maybe there is a REAL need not to (even if the need is just autonomy) and 3. they are kids - they can't developmentally understand the consequences of each action (whether it's permanent damage to the wall, or rotting food left in the car) until they grow older. I want to be patient and understand that they are young, and that my job is to help them along gently, not expect that they will know how to be reasonable beyond their years.
post #167 of 185
Don't we all just simply feel crabby from time to time? I know I do...yes, it might be because I'm tired, hungry, need time alone or whatever. But there isn't always a fix...sometimes you just have to ride out the feelings. I think children are this way, too.

It seems like the goal is for a child to be cooperative and happy. I think sometimes children play around with different attitudes and behaviors to see what reaction they might get. Also, I think sometimes they just feel out of sorts and need to feel that way until it changes. I don't believe that there is an underlying cause that needs to be found.
post #168 of 185
Also, what needs to be considered is a physical health of a mother. I just spoke to someone I know has lupus and she is exhausted a lot of times. She told me that "time-outs" is what saved her relationship with her daughter. She would tend to get aggressive but instead she would just tell her daughter that she needs a time-out for both of them to be in separate rooms for few minutes. I'm not saying that time-outs are used by every mother with physical problem, but it's a better alternative to verbal fighting and screaming.
post #169 of 185
Good point. We muddle through as best as we can a lot of the time. I think debating various techniques can be helpful, but the context and specific ways in which they are used (along with temperment, age, etc.) play a large role in what will work.

I thought what someone said earlier made a lot of sense - our relationship with our children has the most influence. And you have to do what jives with your own personality and theirs.
post #170 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by RachelEve14 View Post
I've been following this discussion with interest I think a lot of the disagreements come with semantics and what *we* as the adult consider a punishment (or not).

Coming from my behavior modification background, I can't believe many parents *never* use punishment, even if they dont' call it punishment and it's logical / not punitive. Punishment is anything that decreases behavior. If your child colors on the wall, and you ask them to help clean it, and they don't like it (let's assume you don't force, but the child would rather play) and that decreases the likelyhood the child will color on the wall again, you punished. The consequense you imposed (help clean up, lose playtime) decreased the behavior you didn't like (coloring on walls).

If you have a fenced in yard and your child opens the gate and runs into the street 100x and nothing happens, but 1x (G/d forbid) your child gets hit by a car, that was a natural consequense. It happened in nature. Obviously we don't want that to happen!

If you tell the child they run out the gate, outside playtime is over and we go inside, you are imposing a logical consequense. It's related, relevent, etc. If that logical consequence deters your child from running out the gate in the future, you punished. Yes, you used a logical consequence, but you punished. You bringign the child inside (unplesent for the child) decreased the likelyhood the behavior would happen again (running in the street). If you said "that's it no more TV the rest of the week and no dessert either" you also punished, but it was unrelated, and punitive.

Something so gentle as telling a child you are upset, showing a frown, telling a child you are disspointed / angry / hurt, etc. can be considered a punishment if it decreases behavior. Anythign that decreases behavior is technically a punishment, even if it's just you saying "it makes me upset when I come in and see the playroom a mess after we cleaned it." Lots of the things we say to say on the GD board are technically punishemnts, but they are gentle and related. If they decrease behavior they are punishments, even if you are just telling a child the cat likes gentle touches, or it's not ok to hit your brother, etc.

Just my .02

back to :
i think this is a great addition to the discussion! it really made me think about my boundaries regarding punishment. i know that sometimes an upset face from me can really hurt my ds feelings. i wouldn't necessarily think i'm punishing him, but if my goal is to decrease the amount of effort he puts into unwrapping the toilet paper roll, then it is a punishment of sorts.

lots to think about here. thanks!
post #171 of 185
Subbing so I can come back to this very important discussion when I have more time. DH and I have been talking about dropping timeouts. We've only used them maybe 5 times (our son is 3) but it doesn't feel good to me. Thanks everyone for posting your thoughts!
post #172 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by RachelEve14 View Post
I've been following this discussion with interest I think a lot of the disagreements come with semantics and what *we* as the adult consider a punishment (or not).

Coming from my behavior modification background, I can't believe many parents *never* use punishment, even if they dont' call it punishment and it's logical / not punitive. Punishment is anything that decreases behavior. If your child colors on the wall, and you ask them to help clean it, and they don't like it (let's assume you don't force, but the child would rather play) and that decreases the likelyhood the child will color on the wall again, you punished. The consequense you imposed (help clean up, lose playtime) decreased the behavior you didn't like (coloring on walls).

If you have a fenced in yard and your child opens the gate and runs into the street 100x and nothing happens, but 1x (G/d forbid) your child gets hit by a car, that was a natural consequense. It happened in nature. Obviously we don't want that to happen!

If you tell the child they run out the gate, outside playtime is over and we go inside, you are imposing a logical consequense. It's related, relevent, etc. If that logical consequence deters your child from running out the gate in the future, you punished. Yes, you used a logical consequence, but you punished. You bringign the child inside (unplesent for the child) decreased the likelyhood the behavior would happen again (running in the street). If you said "that's it no more TV the rest of the week and no dessert either" you also punished, but it was unrelated, and punitive.

Something so gentle as telling a child you are upset, showing a frown, telling a child you are disspointed / angry / hurt, etc. can be considered a punishment if it decreases behavior. Anythign that decreases behavior is technically a punishment, even if it's just you saying "it makes me upset when I come in and see the playroom a mess after we cleaned it." Lots of the things we say to say on the GD board are technically punishemnts, but they are gentle and related. If they decrease behavior they are punishments, even if you are just telling a child the cat likes gentle touches, or it's not ok to hit your brother, etc.

Just my .02

back to :
Absolutely what I was thinking. I think most of us are on the same page, we're just using different definitions.

My kids take what we call time outs when they are just out of control it's time for them to step out and have a cool down. They can come back to the area when they are done being out of control, if they come back before that I ask them to step out again. They choose where they go, and they get to come back when they can be respectful again.
post #173 of 185
I don't personally see anything horrible about your method. You use an appropriate amount of time, and you explain to your child what is happening and why. I remember as a child being made to stand in the corner for up to half an hour at a time (from the age of four or so) and not a word was said about what was going on afterwards. The way you do it is more of a "time in", or a time to relax, calm down, then discuss what needs to happen to make both of you happy.
post #174 of 185
post #175 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by RachelEve14 View Post
Coming from my behavior modification background, I can't believe many parents *never* use punishment, even if they dont' call it punishment and it's logical / not punitive.
For me, part of learning about this aspect of parenting has been a paradigm shift AWAY from a behavior modification point of view. Not everything a human being does is a behavior to be reinforced, punished, or extinguished. There's a whole 'nother layer going on in there, the moral/social/reasoning side of things, that is just not explained by operant conditioning. If I believe that taking my child for the ice cream I promised (which was never contingent on his behavior but only offered as a gift out of love) is not a reinforcer for his meltdown, even if the meltdowns happen to increase in frequency afterward, then I have to believe that the things I do that seem to make his undesirable actions less common are not in fact punishers, but simply a part of the larger picture of parenting that's going on. Does that make sense to anyone but me? To be clear, I am the mother to an infant and so my parenting philosophy is purely theoretical at this stage.
post #176 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by alison_in_oh View Post
For me, part of learning about this aspect of parenting has been a paradigm shift AWAY from a behavior modification point of view. Not everything a human being does is a behavior to be reinforced, punished, or extinguished. There's a whole 'nother layer going on in there, the moral/social/reasoning side of things, that is just not explained by operant conditioning. If I believe that taking my child for the ice cream I promised (which was never contingent on his behavior but only offered as a gift out of love) is not a reinforcer for his meltdown, even if the meltdowns happen to increase in frequency afterward, then I have to believe that the things I do that seem to make his undesirable actions less common are not in fact punishers, but simply a part of the larger picture of parenting that's going on. Does that make sense to anyone but me? To be clear, I am the mother to an infant and so my parenting philosophy is purely theoretical at this stage.
It makes sense that alot of us don't want to use behavioral techniques with our children, because we don't want to control their behavior, we want to teach them to be reasoning, responsible people who are able to take other people's needs into consideration as well as their own.

But that doesn't change the principles of behavioral conditioning. Just because we may not want to believe in gravity doesn't mean we won't get hurt jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. If you give a child an ice cream after a meltdown and his meltdowns increase, its positive reinforcement. That doesn't mean its ONLY positive reinforcement. He could also be learning about the value of keeping promises, the consistency of a mother's love even when he's behaving in difficult ways, etc. Sometimes although reinforcement/punishment is occurring, that's not ALL that's occurring, and the value of what else is being learned might be greater than a little accidental operant conditioning that happens in the process.
post #177 of 185
Has anyone posted this article yet?

The Case Against Time-Out
post #178 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post
But that doesn't change the principles of behavioral conditioning. Just because we may not want to believe in gravity doesn't mean we won't get hurt jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
I hear you, and I think that your comparison here actually proves my point in a way. That is, according to the general theory of relativity, gravity can be approached as a force emanating from a massive body, or as an acceleration caused by a disturbance of spacetime. (Or, as my professor used to illustrate, for all we know we could be at the bottom of a giant bucket being swung in circles by the Great Earth Goddess!) Regardless of which framework we consider, the parachutist will still fall to the earth, but if we absolutely and totally believe in the Great Goddess's bucket, then the conventional view of gravity need not apply to us; our observations of phenomena are completely explained by an alternative theory.

Similarly, if we choose to take operant theory out of the picture of parenting, the child will still engage in the same behaviors upon which the operant definitions had been placed. But if we are not focusing on *behaviors*, we cannot apply the definitions about which behaviors are increasing or decreasing in frequency, so in that sense we *aren't* punishing or reinforcing no matter what a Skinnerian behaviorist would observe in the same situation.
post #179 of 185
Interesting discussion!

I don't have much to add on this theoretical vein, although I find it very interesting.

The thing that strikes me is that if they don't see that there behaviors have an impact in the family system, they are going to learn that out in the world where the consequences might be more painful for them. I think we create a loving environment for our children to learn about the social world.

I agree with a pp that the way the time-out is done makes a big difference. If it coincides with discussion and explanation, it can be a helpful tool. I suppose if it is used as an alternative to hitting the child, that is also a good use of it. Again, it just depends on the circumstances and the behaviors that are going on.

Someone above mentioned the idea that perhaps giving the ice cream after a meltdown would reinforce the consistency of a mother's love. I have to disagree with this one. I don't think gestures like this have anything to do with expressing love. It can make the child very happy and they can enjoy it but I don't think it would be a method of communicating love. I think our children get that message in much more powerful ways that have nothing to do with our buying them ice cream or toys or what have you.

I say that because I think that ice cream idea example really is one of positive reinforcement for undesirable behavior. And a confusing message that you can hurt someone or do some other unacceptable thing and get rewarded with a treat.

I guess if you go to ice cream every day, this might not be the message you are sending....
post #180 of 185
Quote:
Originally Posted by swampangel View Post
The thing that strikes me is that if they don't see that there behaviors have an impact in the family system, they are going to learn that out in the world where the consequences might be more painful for them. I think we create a loving environment for our children to learn about the social world.
I guess again I go back to my philosophy - that avoiding TOs doesn't mean that there aren't consequences for my DD. She still gets the message that her behaviour has an impact - and in a way, she's also learning that she needs to "fix", rather than just "do penance" (not that I consider all TOs penance, but some clearly are).
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › enlighten me - what's wrong with time outs?