Why do you disagree with timeouts? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I see people posting really negative things about timeouts all over MDC, and I'd like to understand the reasoning behind it better. If you're against them, can you please explain what you dislike about them?

I've used timeouts to great effect, which is probably why I'm confused. We mostly used them when DD was 2 and was overly worked up (sad, angry, hyper & not listening) as a tool to help remove her from whatever was getting to her and to help her learn to calm down. Most "bad" behavior happened when she was worked up, so it wasn't a punishment. It was purposefully used to teach her something positive--to calm down. (Also it gave me time to calm down, and helped her understand why sometimes I took a moment for myself before reacting to her.) Once she was/is calm, we talk about it and help her label her feelings.

Now that she's 3 we tend to take her in her room when she's acting up and tell her that she needs to calm down and is welcome to come back and play. She has learned when to take a time out by herself, when she needs space to calm down. To me it's a very gentle approach, so I'm just confused why it's seen as such a bad thing around here.
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#2 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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I disagree with time-outs for all the reasons listed here.

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#3 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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I do not use time outs in the way described in that article at ALL.
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#4 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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Well I am sure there are some people who disagree with the deffinition of CIO - maybe thats not how they 'do' it...maybe they have their own twist on it as well. But it either is or isn't something. If you don't do time outs - you don't do them. I wouldn't be calling something a 'time-out' though if thats not what I did. We have done 'time-ins' and that is no where near the same thing as a time out!

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#5 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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I believe it is the intent and use of them that makes the difference.
I think that they are a great tool to give a break and calm tempers, not as punishment.

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#6 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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I haven't read the article, but I can tell you that we dropped traditional time outs years ago because they just didn't work for us. For instance, lets say the 3 and 4 year old were playing with each other and one spiked a toy onto the other's head. Pulling him away from the screaming and hurt kid and telling him he gets a 3 minute time out for throwing the toy at someone else and then enforcing a "sorry" afterwards just made everyone angry. It didn't calm the kid who got hurt and often it would be repeated time outs until the kid doing the throwing just broke down into a full blown tantrum while the other kid would be just as worked up from being hit in the head with toys and seeing the drama going on.

We started very slowly just getting in the middle of things, asking why they did what they did, and explaining things truthfully. Like, we would explain that we don't throw things at each other, because it hurts and isn't a very nice thing to do, and if it happened again, we would have to only play with soft toys or play apart because throwing hard toys at others is very dangerous. Sometimes we would find out that the toy was thrown due to frustration over wanting a different toy, or over how the other kid was playing, so we would point out that you don't HAVE to play with the other kid if you don't want, or would facilitate a sharing schedule (that they would work out themselves...such as 5 minutes per kid or three turns per kid). It took some time but it got to the root of the problems instead of just dishing out an arbitrary punishment that didn't help quell the hysterics in the long run.

Having said that I have had one or more kid come "take a time out" with me at the park or whatever where we would talk about what was going on if there was a problem. Last time it was because there were like 5 kids pushing to all go down the tube slide at the same time making for a super un-safe situation at the top of the 15 foot platform and quickly leading to shoving and yelling between all the kids. Just because I called it a "time out" doesn't mean he was sitting there on a bench alone and isolated...it was a time to calm down from the drama at the slide top and at the same time brainstorm some ideas for dealing with that situation more effectively.
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#7 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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I ONLY disagree with using them as a punishment. If a child throws a toy, you put him in timeout. If a child won't eat his lunch, you put him in timeout.

But, a time out as a cool down for the child or children is fine. I remember in grade school, if we got too rowdy, the whole class had to put their heads on the desk, and the teacher turned the lights out for a minute. Then after a few minutes, we could raise our heads and by that time, we had settled down.

Obviously, in a large group, that was the best way to handle all the kids quickly.

Sometimes parents need a time out. You just HAVE to take a moment away from the child or children, and since you can't just walk out to your car, it's easier to send them to thier room for a while.

Timeout isn't supposed to be a quick fix. It shouldn't be used as a punishment, just because it's super easy. But, on occasion, it's a handy little tool so you can all regroup.
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#8 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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It addresses the behavior without taking care of the problem that caused it. For my older child, 9 out of 10 times when she's misbehaving, she needs to eat something. It's gotten to the point that when she gets mouthy, I go get something for her to eat (with protein), and I say, "Here, eat this and then we'll talk." Generally, when she is finished eating, the bad behavior is past because the cause of it is taken care of. Other reasons her behavior goes bad include stress, not feeling well, etc. No matter what the cause is, I want to know, so I want her to stay where she can communicate that with me or where I can at least observe her and try to figure out the cause.

In younger children and toddlers, bad behavior is often caused by frustration, and being put somewhere alone doesn't help frustration.
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#9 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:39 PM
 
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I think there can be quite a variation in terms of what people define as a "time out." Some are more gentle than others (ie: there IS a difference b/w forcing a child to sit on a mat for some number of minutes, and resetting the clock of they budge or make a noise and expecting them to spend the time "reflecting" on their transgression and being forced to apologize at the end of the time out, or facing a return to the matt/chair/step VERSUS removing the child from the situation, coaching them to gain composure and leaving it up to them as to when they rejoin activity.)

That said, we don't do imposed time outs. I'll model "removing MYSELF from a tense/heated scenario" and calming down. And DD1 has picked up on that and will sometimes go off to her own quiet space ON HER OWN and return when she's ready. Otherwise, we do time-in together... either sitting down right where we are, or moving to a different room (ie: changing scenery to break the cycle of whatever we're trying to stop.) (caps meant for emphasis, not yelling )

Here's a good (IMO) article breaking down the pros/cons of time-outs: http://www.professionalparenting.ca/articles.html (scroll down for "123 Time Out Advantages and Disadvantages)
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#10 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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I've also removed myself when I've gotten upset in the past, and my older child sometimes does the same because she's seen me model that.

And a time-in can be useful for a toddler, though I guess I mainly did that when in public to keep everyone else on the planet from having to endure my child's tantrums rather than as a teaching tool. But we went by ourselves somewhere and sat until she was through the tantrum.
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#11 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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I love posts like this bc I always learn so much from you guys.

We do a lot of talking over here w/ds1 (7 yrs old) and ds2 (4.5 yrs old). I want them to understand and think things through.

It's really hard to break away from the notion that timeouts=consequence for bad behavior. (And tbh, the only time we have a problem here is when there is meanness involved. Everything else I can handle pretty easily, but I need a time out when they are being hateful to ea other bc it just sets me off).

I grew up in a yelling, punishment, spanking household and have decided to go the other way, but man is it hard to change the feelings that come up as a result of how I was parented. (Wait a minute, I think I just had an ah ha moment bc I never connected that before!).

I have always thought that time out just doesn't make logical sense bc my goal is to use every experience to teach something or help them work through something themselves. I guess it's just a matter of implementing a better solution, and ds2 is challenging me to really think this issue through.

Sorry for the ramble!

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#12 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 05:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SallyN View Post
Here's a good (IMO) article breaking down the pros/cons of time-outs: http://www.professionalparenting.ca/articles.html (scroll down for "123 Time Out Advantages and Disadvantages)
This website looks like a very nice resource. Thank you for posting it!

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#13 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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I don't use timeouts as a "naughty-chair" punishment kind of thing-- you know, like "oh, you hit the dog, so you have to go sit in the chair and don't get up until I say," But I do use them successfully in situations where a child has gotten overstimulated and overwrought and is not in control any longer. For example, my DD1 gets like this sometimes, and I send her to sit in her top-bunk bed for awhile. She has a little shelf up there with her little special things and some books and little toys, so it's not like she's sitting and staring at an empty wall. Usually what'll happen is a situation will erupt and she's crying or not in control in some other way, and talking to her is turning out to be no use because she's too upset to talk or listen. I'll tell her to go up to her bed. She'll cry and rage for a little while, and then it'll go quiet. At that point, I go up to her, and she's usually quietly playing with her stuff and chatting to herself. So I leave her be, and after awhile longer she'll come out quietly and tell me she's ready to come out, and we'll sit a minute and talk about what happened and why and how it could have been prevented.

With little ones, like under about 4, I'll go with them. For example, if DS (3) is noisy and upset at the dinner table, I'll take him and we'll go sit on his bed together on his bed until he's calmed down, and then we'll talk very simply about what is expected in terms of dinner-table behavior, and then we go back to the table together. I might do that with an older child, too, but with DD1 so far she seems to do a lot better left alone. She really does just get overwhelmed, and she needs a quiet place to collect herself, but when she hasn't learned yet to go looking for that quiet place when she needs it. So I tell her, "You feel overwhelmed. When we feel that way, we need to go sit somewhere quiet for awhile. Let's go do that."

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#14 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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I think, as with a lot of issues re: parenting, the terms gentle discipline and time out can be pretty subjective. Unless everyone is using time out as was initially defined by behavioral psychologists, which I do not think is the case. The use of punishment is my concern, not the gentle, well intentioned parent trying to support their child through a difficult period. The term punishment is often misused too, however.

For us, remaining gentle and respectful are priorities for our family. Each family is different, each child is different. It sounds to me that what you have been terming time out has been a respectful experience for everyone involved!

I think it is very important to stress these values/goals and to support one another in attaining them rather than getting hung up on semantics. I know parents who do not use time out but who can be very rough and unkind (yelling, shaming, etc.) to their children, and parents who use time out regularly and are gentle, kind, and respectful.

I know that my son has some issues related to his prematurity that can make processing certain emotions difficult for him at times, and that he needs a calm adult to step in and help him find a quiet spot to calm down/reflect before he has a melt down. Sometimes he needs this help during the meltdown. We chose to use terms other than time out, but this may look like a time out to an unfamiliar judgmental eye. Allowing him to become out of control while surrounded by people only escalates his upset and dishonors his right to let his best self shine when around people he is not familiar with.

Sounds like you're doing great stuff for your DD, Mama, don't let the generalizations of well intentioned folks who do not truly know your situation get you down!
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#15 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 08:09 PM
 
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It's been a long while since I posted here. I agree that timeouts are not effective unless it's for a cooling down.

This post is a nice gentle reminder that I need to find more effective discipline techniques.
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#16 of 52 Old 02-18-2010, 09:53 PM
 
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I don't think time-out teaches kids anything except that if their parents are annoyed with them or don't like what they are doing then they have to be isolated for an arbirtrary amount of time before they can either start doing that thing again or stop if their parents look to fed up. I think that telling a child what to do instead, redirecting to another activity, reminders (both gentle and stern), and helping children cope by making sure they are well rested and well fed are much more useful for children and parents because those things prevent behaviors we don't want as well as teaching children the reasons behind why they are expected to behave in certain ways. Punishing children with time out just teaches them to stop what they are doing when their parents get a certain tone or look on their face in order to avoid time out. I do believe that kids need time to cool off sometimes, but the location and duration of time spent cooling off should be up to the child except in very extreme circumstances.
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#17 of 52 Old 02-19-2010, 05:24 AM
 
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the location and duration of time spent cooling off should be up to the child except in very extreme circumstances
My DD, without redirection to a time out, would have spent her time "cooling off" by screaming and kicking in a hot kitchen next to an oven with all the burners on while i was trying to cook dinner for 40mins. That was not an extremem circumstance, i cook dinner every day, she spends most of her time with me, and at 2.5 she had tantrums about 3x a week. She is NOW at nearly 4 old enough to deal with tantrums a little easier, but at 2.5 she was NOT able to. Removing her from the "scene of the crime" (whatever frustrated or upset her in the first place) gives her time to calm down without having the offending event/item/situation still in her face. About 80% of the time she takes herself to time out nowadays, and sometimes she calls for me to come too, but sometimes she doesn't.
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#18 of 52 Old 02-19-2010, 12:41 PM
 
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I used to be anti time out after reading Unconditional Parenting. Then my little gentle baby (now she's 27 months) started pinching and biting. Now I feel like it's necessary to take her away from the activity when she hurts someone. I don't call it a time out. I don't threaten her with time outs if she doesn't behave. I don't isolate her, but she isn't going to continue playing after she bites/pinches. I don't remove her from me. I remove her from the activity or the person she hurt. I don't follow the rule about one minute per year of age. I follow her needs. As soon as I feel she has regrouped we go to the other child and apologize in some way. Sometimes I do the apology and sometimes she does the apology.

When she pinches/bites me, well, I'm still trying to figure out how to handle it, and that's a whole 'nother thread on mdc.

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#19 of 52 Old 02-19-2010, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
My DD, without redirection to a time out, would have spent her time "cooling off" by screaming and kicking in a hot kitchen next to an oven with all the burners on while i was trying to cook dinner for 40mins. That was not an extremem circumstance, i cook dinner every day, she spends most of her time with me, and at 2.5 she had tantrums about 3x a week. She is NOW at nearly 4 old enough to deal with tantrums a little easier, but at 2.5 she was NOT able to. Removing her from the "scene of the crime" (whatever frustrated or upset her in the first place) gives her time to calm down without having the offending event/item/situation still in her face. About 80% of the time she takes herself to time out nowadays, and sometimes she calls for me to come too, but sometimes she doesn't.
I think safety concerns are extreme enough to warrant choosing a different location for a child to scream. I also think that 40 minutes of crying and kicking a day is very extreme. Maybe not for this particular child, but for most kids that sounds very extreme.
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#20 of 52 Old 02-19-2010, 01:42 PM
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Yeah, we do time-ins and we will remove DD from our bodies or move our bodies away from her, if she's kicking, etc. But we don't do the standard kind of time-outs you see and hear about, like on TV. We're into unconditional parenting big time.
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#21 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 01:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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:
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post
I don't think time-out teaches kids anything except that if their parents are annoyed with them or don't like what they are doing then they have to be isolated for an arbirtrary amount of time before they can either start doing that thing again or stop if their parents look to fed up. I think that telling a child what to do instead, redirecting to another activity, reminders (both gentle and stern), and helping children cope by making sure they are well rested and well fed are much more useful for children and parents because those things prevent behaviors we don't want as well as teaching children the reasons behind why they are expected to behave in certain ways. Punishing children with time out just teaches them to stop what they are doing when their parents get a certain tone or look on their face in order to avoid time out.
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.
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#22 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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A punishment is a negative consequence used to create behavior change. So yes, it is a punishment.
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#23 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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I agree that a parentally-imposed consequence is a punishment, and that time out is a punishment. And I'm ok with that

I only use time out when my child is being unsafe around people. In that case, time away from people is the most logical consequence I can imagine. I've read the Kohn material, and simply do not believe that this kind of boundary equals love withdrawal. "I love you", and "I will not let you hurt me" are not mutually exclusive in my reality, thank goodness! On the contrary, I think it is a VERY valuable lesson to teach my dc as they grow.
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#24 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 12:50 PM
 
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Without getting into talk about reinforcers and punishments...

I think that "gentle" punishment (ie: logical/natural consequences) falls within the scope of attachment parenting.
It's when you get into Unconditional Parenting (and perhaps consensual living, I haven't done research into that) that people stop using punishments or extrinsic reinforcers (ie: praise and rewards) to elicit behavior changes.
Since MDC is inclusive of these varying spectrums of parenting philosophies and methods, you'll see differing opinions with regards to time-outs.
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#25 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post
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.
This is how time outs work out at our house. In the heat of the moment, they stop the action. Everybody gets a chance to cool down. They usually lead to a more calm discussion of the situation. They often end with completely voluntary apologies, or one kid expressing what he needs to say in a safer way, and feeling understood. And with everyone calm, we can figure out what else they could do so that they are both happy. Sometimes they are a tool for me to clarify a limit someone wasn't sure about. Sometimes they provide space and time for a child to consider how his actions affect others. I see a lot of positive things come out of them.

How I use them does not look anything like what I have seen on certain TV shows, with a "naughty stool" and a child shamed and made to sit on it until they give in, as they were a wild horse to be broken. Even when I'm using time out, I want them to have a way to feel they can "save face", to maintain a feeling of dignity, and to feel like they got something out of the process. That's why we talk through them.

I've come to see that words can mean different things to different people - time out, consequences, punishment are all terms that can be interpreted in different ways. For the most part I've quit reading parenting/discipline books or worrying about whether I'm following this or that philosophy. I may read something and take some ideas that work for me, but I don't fret about following anyone's rules. What matters most to me is the feeling I have about how we are handling situations. I want to feel like we are growing in a direction of peaceful, respectful and considerate behavior, caring about each other, and enjoying being together. Discipline that generates anger and resentment doesn't get us there. It also doesn't get us there when I don't effectively address things that I am not okay with and end up feeling resentful and powerless myself. There is a balance to strike. For myself I've found that my feelings about how we are doing are my best guide.

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#26 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 03:02 PM
 
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Without getting into talk about reinforcers and punishments...

I think that "gentle" punishment (ie: logical/natural consequences) falls within the scope of attachment parenting.
It's when you get into Unconditional Parenting (and perhaps consensual living, I haven't done research into that) that people stop using punishments or extrinsic reinforcers (ie: praise and rewards) to elicit behavior changes.
Since MDC is inclusive of these varying spectrums of parenting philosophies and methods, you'll see differing opinions with regards to time-outs.
I agree. My response was to SpringLily, who said she uses consequences, not punishments. I forgot to quote.
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#27 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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It addresses the behavior without taking care of the problem that caused it. For my older child, 9 out of 10 times when she's misbehaving, she needs to eat something. It's gotten to the point that when she gets mouthy, I go get something for her to eat (with protein), and I say, "Here, eat this and then we'll talk." Generally, when she is finished eating, the bad behavior is past because the cause of it is taken care of. Other reasons her behavior goes bad include stress, not feeling well, etc. No matter what the cause is, I want to know, so I want her to stay where she can communicate that with me or where I can at least observe her and try to figure out the cause.
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While I can definately understand how being hungry can cause a child to act out, do you ever worry that this might cause her to use food as comfort when she's upset when she gets older?

Mom to angel baby, grew wings at 5 weeks in May '07, William, born Dec '08, and another angel who grew wings at 8w4d (lost at 11w) in Oct '10. Rachel born Feb 2012, Another angel Lost Sept '13. New bean due Nov '14!
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#28 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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I agree. My response was to SpringLily, who said she uses consequences, not punishments. I forgot to quote.
Why does time out have to be a punishment? A lot of the time it is not.

Sometimes it's as simple as removing a child (for their own sake and the sake of others) in order for the child to calm down, take a breather, think about another way to solve a problem, while giving the offended child space to feel "safe."

If time out is used as another poster mentioned, with "naughty chairs" and timers and all that, then yes, that's punishment. But time outs aren't always punishment and are not always negative.
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#29 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 03:51 PM
 
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Why does time out have to be a punishment? A lot of the time it is not.

Sometimes it's as simple as removing a child (for their own sake and the sake of others) in order for the child to calm down, take a breather, think about another way to solve a problem, while giving the offended child space to feel "safe."

If time out is used as another poster mentioned, with "naughty chairs" and timers and all that, then yes, that's punishment. But time outs aren't always punishment and are not always negative.
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.
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#30 of 52 Old 02-22-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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While I can definately understand how being hungry can cause a child to act out, do you ever worry that this might cause her to use food as comfort when she's upset when she gets older?
No, I don't believe in behaviorism in regard to people. I think people are much more complicated than that. Hopefully it will help her better learn the low-blood-sugar signals her body sends her, though.
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