Why do you disagree with timeouts? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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I suppose there's a continuum, but my response was only to SpringLily, not a statement about everything everyone uses the word "time out" to mean.

I would say overall that if it is something the child doesn't want to happen, it is negative, and if that negativity is part of the reason it's being used, a hope that the negative feeling will change behavior, then it is a punishment.
agreed. At least, that's what I learned in Educational Psychology. The term "time out" derived from "time out from positive reinforcement." And punishment is "unpleasant consequences used to weaken behavior."

HOW the time-out is conducted will determine how "gentle" or "respectful" or "reasonable" (or not) it is. Which I think is what some of this discussion is about. But regardless of how gentle and respectful it is, it is *still* time out from whatever activity the child was choosing to do (i.e.: from their perspective, an "unpleasant consequence."

Now I suppose technically a "time in" is still a "time out" as it's removing the child from the undesirable situation. However I think proponents of time in would present that although the child is being removed from the situation, the replacement (attention from parent/care-giver) is not an unpleasant consequence. hmmm... now I want to think/ramble on this more, but my DD1 needs some quality mommy time whilst DD2 is napping... else I'll be dealing with the consequence of "misbehavior" later.
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#32 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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Well I guess the difference I see with time-in is that the parent is still behaving in an actively loving manner. If the parent is in the same room but giving the silent treatment or refusing to look at or touch the child, then it's still emotional distance used to make the child feel bad in an attempt to change behavior. But it sounds like most people using time-in are talking about seeing that the child is out of wack and wanting to take away extra stimuli and take the child away from where the problem started, settling the child down, holding and being loving and soothing. That seems more like a desire to soothe and relax the child than a desire to make the child have negative feelings in an attempt to change behavior.

However, I think it's more in how the child interprets it than how we intend it. I assume parents doing time-in are trying to judge the response to see if the child feels punished or feels soothed. And how punished or how soothed the child feels is probably a pretty good measure of where on the punishment contnuum it falls.
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#33 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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Sometimes I give DH a time out...sometimes *I* take a time out if I am emotinally out of control, and at a certain age (depends on your kid I think) sending them to their room or another isolated safe place to blow off some steam, is important.

We all have needs in the family, and they all NEED meeting. If the child is well fed, well rested, and well stimulated and they simply have a need for autonomy that cannot be met because it compromses their safety, or they have a need for a degree of personal touch that compromises another family memeber's need for safety and not being hurt, or they have a need to assert their will and it infringes on their sister's need to not be dragged down the hall, time outs have been very effective for us, so far (one child down, one to go -- 6 weeks so we are years away from these decisions).

I suppose I am not doing them in true Time out fashion, but we call them time outs because it was the word they used in pre-school which was easier for him, and it is a time-out. We drop EVERYTHING and take a break and go be alone, calm down and reflect and then when we can think rationally again, (sometimes this takes one minute,sometimes it takes five, for the grown ups in the house this can sometimes take hours) we come back into the common areas and discuss our needs and wants rationally and calmly. It really doesn't work with toddlers, imo. I much preferred the Happiest Toddler on the Block method of toddlerese reflecting their feelings back to them...but sometimes *I* needed a time out and ds needed to be safe so I would put him in the playpen or his room while I gathered my wits not to scream or pinch someone. Then I went to him and talked it out.

It really works well for our family's temperment (fairly long fuses but when we blow our stack for whatever reason, MAN do we blow it big!), I don't believe they should be used as a punishment, but rather a preventitive measure, as a step BEFORE things get so crazy that bad behavior happens. And if I understand the time-ins as described here, always after this and all other measures have been exhausted and it is clearly one of those things that one could benefit from being alone.

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#34 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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On second thought, I suppose in a way it is always a punishment, because who wouldn't like to go right on emotionally abusing and agressively badgering their chosen human punching bags, but we really don't allow that in our house and in order to protect every other family member's right to safety and peace, we give time outs.

I have it found it really important to protect our personal boundaries and it has taught ds to protect his personal boundaries and when someone, a friend or a relative gets aggressive or abusive with him, he removes himself from the situation and suggests they have a time out to chill out. A great example happened last night when dh came home yesterday angry about something that happened in one of his classes and then he started screaming at ds for leaving his toys underfoot (in his play area!) Ds stood up and calmly gave DH a time out which I supported, and though at first DH was stroppy about it and felt like he was being punished, after having some time out DH did feel better and came to apologize to us for taking his bad day out on us.

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#35 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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I'm not a punching bag and my dd is good at protecting her personal boundaries, too. One is not necessary for the other.

I choose not to do timeouts, but I do believe they can be part of gentle discipline, so I'm not knocking it. Just saying that I don't use them and I don't have a wild house of punching and hitting, and my dd doesn't have boundary issues. And she's a wild one. The younger one is much less high needs.
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#36 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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We do timeouts but not the way most people think of timeouts. We use them when out 31/2yo gets in a crying jag where he wont let us calm him. I feel he is scared cause he feels out of control. So I gently place him in a chair in the same room as we are in and tell him to take time to himself to calm down. This is the only thing that works for him. I then sit in the same room as him so he knows Im right there if he needs/wants me and he is allowed to come climb on my lap if desired. I dont tell him he is being naughty or anything of that sort. He will sit and stop crying almost right away and will then either come to my lap and cuddle of run off and play acting like he feels tons better. I have tried lots of things to calm him when his emotions get out of control, but they just upset him more and I figured this method out by accident. We also dont call it time out, in fact come to think about it we dont have a name for it at all.
If/when I would try to cuddle him or even sit next to him during these time he would try to kick, thrash and scream harder so I feel this is the most gentle way to help him threw his emotions. This is only needed once every couple weeks but it works for him.

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#37 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post
Thanks for all the replies!

It looks from teh responses that a lot of you who are against time out have a very specific view of what exactly time out is. I think in practice, parents use a wide variety of time out methods. I can see disagreeing with some of those methods, but not writing off all of them.

I just wanted to quickly respond to this:

You can probably tell by my original post, but I totally disagree that it doesn't teach children anything. I always try to understand the purpose of the misbehavior before I take action. Maybe she's overtired or hungry, trying to get my attention because I've been busy with something, or is angry at me for setting a boundary. Each case has its own course of action. I don't use punishments, I use consequences. Because they are consequences, I give a warning beforehand and attempt to redirect, in order to give her the best chance at NOT needing a timeout. That way it's not a sudden decision on my part and she can see it coming based on her won decision.

Say DD is in a hyper and wild mood and hits her brother. And then say I give her a warning and help her get involved in another activity, either to calm her down or redirect her energy to a more appropriate activity. A minute later she gets up, goes back over to him, and hits him (this situation is totally made up, btw.) As promised, I put her in time out and say "time out. We don't hit people. You need to calm down for a few minutes." I'll set the timer (mostly just to be aware of how long she's over there). She can yell scream, whatever, I don't limit the noise. After a few minutes, she calms herself down so I come back and we cuddle and talk about what happened. We talk about how hitting hurts, and then we go back to her brother so she can ask him if he's ok. It's not about forcing a "sorry," it's about checking on how your actions affected others and how they are doing.

So it seems to me like if a parent does it thoughtfully, a time out can actually teach self-control, help them identify & express emotions, and encourage empathy and social skills. Sounds pretty AP oriented to me, and very different than punishment.
That sounds like a punishment to me. Your dd does something you don't like, you isolate her, then talk to her about why she was punished and what to do next time. Consequences and punishment are the same thing, consequence is just a prettier word. Punishments/consequences are effective often very at stopping behaviors, that doesn't mean that it is something I agree with or would personally use in my home and it definitely doesn't mean that it is the only way to teach a child how to be thoughtful and considerate. People warn their kids and try to redirect them before they smack them to, that doesn't mean that there will be a bunch of people on the GD board calling spanking a gentle consequence rather than a harsh punishment . The use of warning and redirection doesn't change punishment into something loving and gentle.

I think time-out is much nicer than hitting a kid, but that doesn't change what it is. I also don't believe that time-out can't be AP, I just have a hard time visualizing that. I did use time-out with my dd in two very extreme circumstances when a behavior needed to stop immediately, I didn't know what else to do (and I still don't know what else I could have done). I don't think that makes it gentle and I don't think it taught my dd anything other than that her behavior was so extreme it pushed my buttons and I resorted to a harsh consequence. I am not sure that it was right, but I am sure that I don't want to use it again and I hope I don't come to a time when I feel like I have run out of options again.

If it works for your family and feels right then that is great for you. You asked why people are against it and I answered with my reasons just as other people did. My reasons haven't changed, I am still very much against using any type of punishment, including time-out, in my home because it doesn't teach what I want my dd to learn.
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#38 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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I'm not a punching bag and my dd is good at protecting her personal boundaries, too. One is not necessary for the other.

I choose not to do timeouts, but I do believe they can be part of gentle discipline, so I'm not knocking it. Just saying that I don't use them and I don't have a wild house of punching and hitting, and my dd doesn't have boundary issues. And she's a wild one. The younger one is much less high needs.
oh geez, no, I didn't mean in any way to imply that one would have to use time outs or else they would be unable to establish boundaries, just that this is what has really worked for us in our family given our circumstances (two working parents, lots of moving around and instability, passionate fired up personalities mixed with mellow meditative people, etc etc )when people are out of control..including grown ups.

Rebekah - mom to Ben 03/05 and Emily 01/10, a peace educator, and a veg*n and wife to Jamie.
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#39 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 09:10 PM
 
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My DD has sent me to think on the stairs when i've been disrespectful in my tone towards her (i'm pregnant and hormonal, i was not perfect even when not pregnant!). And i go. She doesn't use it as a punishment either, she just recognises when a person needs to get away from a situation to get a grip on themselves. She always comes very sweetly to see me after a few moments to check if i need a hug. I always take one
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#40 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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oh geez, no, I didn't mean in any way to imply that one would have to use time outs or else they would be unable to establish boundaries, just that this is what has really worked for us in our family given our circumstances (two working parents, lots of moving around and instability, passionate fired up personalities mixed with mellow meditative people, etc etc )when people are out of control..including grown ups.
Ok, sorry for misunderstanding.
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#41 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 10:35 PM
 
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That sounds like a punishment to me. Your dd does something you don't like, you isolate her, then talk to her about why she was punished and what to do next time. Consequences and punishment are the same thing, consequence is just a prettier word. Punishments/consequences are effective often very at stopping behaviors, that doesn't mean that it is something I agree with or would personally use in my home and it definitely doesn't mean that it is the only way to teach a child how to be thoughtful and considerate. People warn their kids and try to redirect them before they smack them to, that doesn't mean that there will be a bunch of people on the GD board calling spanking a gentle consequence rather than a harsh punishment . The use of warning and redirection doesn't change punishment into something loving and gentle.
See, I don't see it as punishment. I see it as discipline. Punishment is a negative consequence, and I don't think time outs are negative. I think of them as neutral. Neither good nor bad.

It's just plain discipline to me.

They serve the purpose of getting a child to cool down, back off and can help the child learn. Teaching a child that the way they are acting is inappropriate and hurtful and that right now, it's time to take a break from the situation and re-evaluate in a bit. In other words, I use them to teach. Not to punish.
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#42 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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The negative thing is from the kids' point of view. So if they think it's neutral, then no it isn't really punishing to them. But if they think it's negative, then yes it is. It's more about how they respond to it than how we intend it, although I think that does make a difference as far as the continuum from more punitive to less, and from more gentle to less as well. And punishment is something that is used with the intention to teach, so intending to teach doesn't mean it isn't punishment.
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#43 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 11:26 PM
 
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the negative thing is from the kids' point of view. So if they think it's neutral, then no it isn't really punishing to them. But if they think it's negative, then yes it is. It's more about how they respond to it than how we intend it, although i think that does make a difference as far as the continuum from more punitive to less, and from more gentle to less as well. And punishment is something that is used with the intention to teach, so intending to teach doesn't mean it isn't punishment.
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#44 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 10:57 AM
 
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But if they think it's negative, then yes it is. It's more about how they respond to it than how we intend it...
I guess I disagree. To me it's no more punitive than taking away a broom my son is repeatedly (though accidentally) hitting his siblings with. Sure, he may think it's punishment but that doesn't make it so. Heck, even "time-ins" can be considered punishment then, if that's how the child perceives it. Doing normal chores around the house can be "punishment." Even requiring buckling into car seats can be "punishment!"

So no, I don't think it's entirely how kids see things. If I base everything I do upon how my children perceive things then parenting would be near impossible.
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#45 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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...then parenting would be near impossible.
It is.

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#46 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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OP, this is definitely one of those topics with a wide variety of opinion. Personally I think time-outs can be part of gentle discipline. I, myself, have not used a time-out but that's because I haven't needed to; however, I am totally open to the concept and will experiment with time-outs if I deem it necessary. I think every child is an individual and for some time-outs work and for others, time-outs don't work. That's true WITHIN families as well.

I've seen wonderful parents use time-outs with their kids. Sometimes they use them for a short period of time and never use them again.

Parenting is one long experiment and you have to be flexible
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#47 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 11:54 AM
 
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I guess I disagree. To me it's no more punitive than taking away a broom my son is repeatedly (though accidentally) hitting his siblings with. Sure, he may think it's punishment but that doesn't make it so. Heck, even "time-ins" can be considered punishment then, if that's how the child perceives it. Doing normal chores around the house can be "punishment." Even requiring buckling into car seats can be "punishment!"

So no, I don't think it's entirely how kids see things. If I base everything I do upon how my children perceive things then parenting would be near impossible.
It's a part of the puzzle. How we intend things is also part of the puzzle. I think kids probably put together "I hit sister with broom, broom is taken away" better than "I hit sister with broom, I get put in my room." Despite the nice rhyme. At least my kids seem to understand if I have to protect somene. Anyway, it comes from Alfie Kohn. One of the things he says is that if kids feel like it's a punishment, then from their point of view it is, and that perception matters more than our intent. Our intent matters as well, but as far as the child's response goes, their perception is a bigger issue.

And yes I'd agree that children can feel punished by time-ins, depending on the specifics. It isn't a black/white issue, which is why I said this stuff all seems to fall along a continuum.

And I will repeat that I think time-outs and other gentle punishments can definitely be a part of GD and AP. I just like to give the perspective of how I do things as just that, another perspective. Not the gospel of how all parenting should be for all kids. If I've come across that way, I apologize. Not my intent.
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#48 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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It's a part of the puzzle. How we intend things is also part of the puzzle. I think kids probably put together "I hit sister with broom, broom is taken away" better than "I hit sister with broom, I get put in my room." Despite the nice rhyme. At least my kids seem to understand if I have to protect somene. Anyway, it comes from Alfie Kohn. One of the things he says is that if kids feel like it's a punishment, then from their point of view it is, and that perception matters more than our intent. Our intent matters as well, but as far as the child's response goes, their perception is a bigger issue.

And yes I'd agree that children can feel punished by time-ins, depending on the specifics. It isn't a black/white issue, which is why I said this stuff all seems to fall along a continuum.

And I will repeat that I think time-outs and other gentle punishments can definitely be a part of GD and AP. I just like to give the perspective of how I do things as just that, another perspective. Not the gospel of how all parenting should be for all kids. If I've come across that way, I apologize. Not my intent.
I agree with all of this. If you have found a way to make time-out a neutral or positive thing in your child's eyes then that is wonderful. I have to question whether they really see it as neutral if you use warnings/threats of time-out in order to get them to change their behavior. I really recommend that you read some of Alfie Kohn's work. I love how it makes you question things and adjust what you do. It is very preachy, but it very good philosophical stuff. When my dd was younger I hated it and worried a lot about control and being in charge, but as my dd has gotten older and I have read more of his works I have started to really agree with a lot of what he says in his books. His book for teachers is especially well written after the first few chapters.
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#49 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 12:55 PM
 
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I haven't read the whole thread, but we don't do time-outs (our dd is 4yo) because I find that she usually "acts out" when she's feeling unheard, uncounted, or unconnected. Forcing her to go sit by herself wouldn't help any of that- it would only maker her feel more separate and more angry. When I'm really upset about something, I know that I generally need a hug and some understanding while I cool down-- so these are what I try to provide to my daughter.
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#50 of 52 Old 02-23-2010, 05:35 PM
 
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Parenting is one long experiment and you have to be flexible
Love this !

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#51 of 52 Old 02-24-2010, 06:08 AM
 
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I'm wondering if i threaten now! If she is getting a bit out of control (and not just accidental hitting with a broom, in that instance i'd remind her to be careful with it and she would be, but she's nearly 4 so quite self aware once her attention has been drawn to something) i sit by her or offer her a hug (arms open motion) and ask "do you need to sit down and calm down a bit?" and sometimes she says no but takes a hug, and sometimes she says yes and goes off and shouts me to come with her and sometimes (if it's ME she's mad at) she stamps off to the stairs on her own with her cuddle-toy. Only about twice in the last year has she insisted that she doesn't need to calm down when she's behaving in a way which is escalating and cannot continue, but it's my fault for not identifying the moments when she was on the edge of losing control, once it's lost it's lost. In those instances i DID take her to the stairs, but i stayed with her unless she told me to go away, in which case i stayed close by.

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#52 of 52 Old 02-24-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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Some kids will try to get heard and they will escalate until many parents shut them down with a punishment, such as time-out. My dd is one of those kids who will never stop escalating. She WILL be heard and she desperately wants to connect when she is that angry and out of control. To send her to her room in a "time out"--a traditional time out "You go sit there for x minutes" or even just a "go away from me until you calm down" only aggravates her needs to connect with me further. She will Bash her door, throw things, draw on the wall. In a "traditional" discipline household she's one of those kids who would be in time out a LOT and then would probably get spanked when she gets totally out of control and starts hitting people and destroying things.

I need to get to her underlying need, which in many cases seems to be a safe place to release pent up emotions. Maybe she saw something at school that upset her. Maybe her brother took her markers one too many times. Who knows. Often i have to lovingly, but firmly restrain her while she rages and have empathy for her. When she calms down she often cries and says things like "i say i hate you mommy but i dont hate you--i love you and don't want you to be mad at me!" When she opens up to me like that, i can see that her openess is only a result of me being willing to be with her and HEAR her no matter what emotion she is expressing or how angry she gets. I really try to get in her world. Sending her away from me only amplifies her feelings of "they don't love me/I'm a jerk". i KNOW for a fact this is how she experiences a "time out" because she has told me (when i've gotten too angry to be with her and made her go away from me, or i've walked away). She needs me to be available when she's scared and out of control.

I know a "let's calm down" thing is different from a time out. But for my dd, it has to be a "time in" with an adult. If i try to shut my door to her and put myself in time out she will break the door down or say "i'm writing on the waaaaaaalllll!" she'll do anything to elicit a reaction and a connection with me--even if its a negative connection.

I know a lot of kids who wont escalate. they will just shut down and go inside themselves and say "they don't want to hear me when i'm angry. I'm bad and wrong". On the outside, when this child emerges from a time out, they may appear calm, but on the inside they are left with the sense that its not ok to express negative emotions and that they are bad and need to be sent away. The inner life of a child is so complicated, i'm just beginning to see it as i have more empathy for my daughter and her strong emotions. Time outs do nothing to foster connection between us.

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