What are your views on 'timeout' as a discipline method? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-10-2012, 04:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious how folks here view timeouts as a discipline method. I've used separation when angry as a way to keep from hitting, but not as discipline. Is it effective? How long should a timeout last? What should you do if a child won't leave timeout? Is it just a power struggle?

My own son is well beyond the timeout for discipline age. I do tell him to go to his room if we are arguing and I cannot leave, so we can cool down and talk more reasonably. But I read, see and hear about timeouts, and wonder.
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#2 of 16 Old 10-10-2012, 05:32 AM
 
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I am not a fan of punishment in general, and when I look at whether something will function as a punishment, and therefore IMO be either not particularly effective or counterproductive, I ask myself the following kinds of questions:

1. Will my child turn this around and feel like the victim, absolving herself of a feeling of responsibility?
2. Will it weaken or strengthen my connection with her when it's all over?
3. Does it prevent something worse from happening?
4. Does it treat the the underlyig problem or just a symptom of the underlying problem?

There might be others but that's what I can think of.

So to be specific, grounding can often make a child feel like the victim. They do something they shouldn't have, but they sit in their room thinking about how unfair you are and how angry they are rather than reflecting on what they did and what they should have done.

Now, if I were in a rage and felt I might hit them otherwise, grounding might be a better choice. That's where #3 comes in.

And as for #4, maybe the underlying problem is that they're tired, in which case going in to rest could be helpful. I think you'd have to think through the specifics in that case, but I would try not to phrase that as a punishment, personally. I have said to my kids, "You sound really tired. Do you want to lie down for a bit?" This is them going to their room, but is not punishment, and if they said no I might set up a place for them to rest on the couch or something. Or sometimes I just let it go and they'll often reflect and realize that they are tired after hearing it stated out loud. Since I don't force it, it isn't a punishment, but sometimes going to one's room is a good idea.

Even if you do feel punishment is useful, those questions might help you decide if they're useful at that time or in that way. But I do personally think it just turns into a power struggle, weakens the connection, and allows the child to turn themselves into the victim, which keeps them from reflecting on what they've done wrong and how they could do things differently.
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#3 of 16 Old 10-10-2012, 08:33 AM
 
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I rarely use timeout for my daycare kids.  If I do, it's because we just need a break from that child.  Either he or she is actually picking on another child, and the victim deserves a few moments to start a new activity without the bossy kid interjecting him or herself.  

 

Or just because *I* need a break from the child.  

 

But, as a learning tool, I don't think it works.  It's just a breather.  I think with six full time kids, timeout gets used a total of four times in a year.  So, some kids have never had a time out in their lives.

 

Our worst punishment is "placement of nap mats".  We watch a movie at nap time, and there are good nap spots, and bad nap spots.  If a child is having a bad day (doing things he or she knows is not O.K) then he or she must reallllly need a nap that day, so we put the mat farther away from the tv, and the other kids.  The kids who have made better choices, are clearly not as tired and sleep in front of the tv, and close to each other.  

 

In reality though, the kids who are having a bad day, really DO need to nap that day, so it's good all the way around.  They can still see the tv, but not as easily, so they usually just fall asleep.

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#4 of 16 Old 10-10-2012, 11:50 AM
 
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I'm not sure if any of you have heard of Time-In.  I view Timeouts as used for when the adult needs a break...to get away from the kids so that the adult (me) can calm down, regroup, and then re-enter the relationship.  TimeIn is for the kiddo.  This means that they need more love, attention, guidance, and direction for how to handle a situation.  They may need their world made smaller, so you bring them closer to you.  A child needs role-modeling to understand how to handle their own emotional crisis.  If we put them in a time out, they will never learn how to handle their emotion.  If we put them in time in, this gives us an opportunity to teach them how to handle their emotions.  We can breathe together, use feeling words, and state what we need.  

As kids get older, I do believe it's important to teach kids to take their own timeout.  I use this a lot with sibling rivalry.  So, my daughter might say to my son, "Hey, I'm frustrated, I'm going to my room for a few minutes to figure out what I need."  Then, she can consult with the adults if she needs to, but this gives her a way to get "away" from her brother and helps her calm her central nervous system.  


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#5 of 16 Old 10-15-2012, 04:56 AM
 
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If I do, it's because we just need a break from that child.  Either he or she is actually picking on another child, and the victim deserves a few moments to start a new activity without the bossy kid interjecting him or herself.  

 

Or just because *I* need a break from the child.

This is how it works for us too, I don't think it does much for the child who has been removed but I think it can help the other child feel listened too. I don't tend to use it often, but sometimes in our house anyway the kids just need time apart. Hopefully in time they will recognise it and move themselves, till then I guess it's up to me.

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#6 of 16 Old 10-15-2012, 10:44 AM
 
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We do time outs and time ins. 

 

Basically, if DD is being absurd (whining, kicking, fighting every.single.thing) I put her on her bed to calm down. I will try and sit with her, but if she continues hitting and kicking and doesnt respond to the affection Im giving her I will not hesitate to leave her be until she calms down. Usually it's over when she says it's over. 

 

We do immediate time outs when she hits just to be mean (as opposed to winding up hitting me because she is fighting putting a shirt on). For me, it's the natural consequence. If you hit people, you dont get to be around them anymore and if they cant leave, then you have to. We have done time outs for things like intentionally throwing a mason jar on the floor and it breaking, but really it's that I am mad and need a break, plus she has to be in a safe place while I clean up the broken glass. 


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#7 of 16 Old 10-15-2012, 06:06 PM
 
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I'm not a fan, personally. It would not have been a good fit for my DC. I did see a family do time-outs once and the child seemed really soothed by it so I guess it can work. It's just not my style. 


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#8 of 16 Old 10-16-2012, 11:45 AM
 
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Here's a good blog post about alternatives to time-outs:

 

http://naturalparentsnetwork.com/alternatives-time-out/


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#9 of 16 Old 10-16-2012, 12:15 PM
 
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I tend to think time outs should be a positive experience, not a "punishment".  I have occasionally met parents who say time out doesn't work for their kids because the kid enjoys it.  I find myself thinking, "So you have a child who voluntarily sits still and quietly for a few minutes, and you see that as a bad thing?".

 

As an adult, I am learning to meditate because I find it helps me clear my mind and focus more.  But kids who learn this skill early are truly blessed.  The ability to feel comfortable while sitting by yourself without distractions is a great quality.

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#10 of 16 Old 10-19-2012, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. You all have answered my question. It feels good to know that there are others who dislike time out as a punishment!
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#11 of 16 Old 10-19-2012, 12:01 PM
 
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I will sometimes insist ds take a break from an activity. Usually if he is getting too amped up and someone is going to get hurt (or has already gotten hurt). These breaks are rarely alone. They usually involve an adult with him trying to help him calm down.

Sometimes the breaks are alone and do feel rather punitive but that is only when whatever preceded the break has made the adults so frustrated and/or angry that they need time sans ds.


Wow I made him sound like a hellion! (Typically we are talking about throwing pillows or other things around and knocking over the baby. Not listening to requests for personal space. Snatching/hording objects so other can't play and then being mean about it etc)
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#12 of 16 Old 10-21-2012, 12:51 PM
 
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As my daughter has gotten older I have used timeouts. I only use them when shes done something wrong and wants to then do something fun such as play with friends. Example: She had gotten a Step 4 paper from school meaning she hadn't behaved per classroom guidelines and I had to go get her. She then wanted to be able to go play with friends and be allowed to take part in some other fun activities. I wouldn't allow her to do any of these things for the rest of the day. I impose a timeout from fun. I had her work on homework and clean up her things and other household chores. I have never spanked her but she knows if I go for the belt she has done something wrong. We are able to talk about and work through what shes done wrong. She has learned that having things removed that she likes to do or places she likes to go means she needs to improve her behavior.
 

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#13 of 16 Old 10-21-2012, 10:09 PM
 
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I love this!

 

Also, one good technique I've heard of is making a special "Time In" place in your house. This should be a space that the child and you designate at a peaceful time between the two of you. And you both get to work together to figure out what this place will be like. Work on it TOGETHER. Bring what you like and invite him/her to bring favorite calming toys, stuffed animals, pillows, books, pictures on the wall. This turns into an encouraging activity and the child really enjoys it. Then you talk together about when is it an appropriate time to come to the Time In "nook". Give examples, and then ask the child for an idea of a time "someone" might need some time in for him/herself. This conveys respect for the child as a person, just like everyone else, and that everyone needs a little time in. It's imperative that when you're talking and creating this space, that it should be a time of complete peace and understanding between the two of you. Any negative connotation, even if unintentional, can disrupt the whole process. So if you want to make this space, try to talk to the child about it, but if you find yourself even feeling a litle bit pushy about it, explain that you're actually in need of Time in, and use the space!

 

Then, after you've made the space together, spend a large amount of energy on only taking YOURSELF to the Time in space when you feel you need it, and make sure the child sees and hears you there. After awhile, this will truly be an only positive place for both of you. After, say, a few months, or even half a year, if needed, you can start to suggest when you see that the child might like some "Time In".


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#14 of 16 Old 11-13-2012, 04:45 PM
 
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I use time outs and loss of priveleges with my (almost) 6 yo. This is only after repeated attempts at warning and redirection. I think time outs really help him to calm down when he's too worked up. He will usually call me to him and say he's ready to apologize about what he did.


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#15 of 16 Old 11-16-2012, 09:54 AM
 
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I think it is better than yelling or spanking, and better than being permissive. In terms of life lessons, value and effectiveness I'm not sure it's something I would rate as high on my resource list. We rarely found a purpose for it, but I wouldn't eliminate from a toolbox. 

Generally, I think punishments all have a limited threshold of effectiveness. Talking, communicating- that is endless. Punishments can change temporary behaviors, but when overused kids become rather immune to them. Or so I've found. 

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#16 of 16 Old 11-20-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by stacyyork View Post

.  They may need their world made smaller, so you bring them closer to you.  A child needs role-modeling to understand how to handle their own emotional crisis.  If we put them in a time out, they will never learn how to handle their emotion.  If we put them in time in, this gives us an opportunity to teach them how to handle their emotions.  We can breathe together, use feeling words, and state what we need.  
As kids get older, I do believe it's important to teach kids to take their own timeout.  I use this a lot with sibling rivalry.  So, my daughter might say to my son, "Hey, I'm frustrated, I'm going to my room for a few minutes to figure out what I need."  Then, she can consult with the adults if she needs to, but this gives her a way to get "away" from her brother and helps her calm her central nervous system.  

I love this! We are just starting to learn about gentle discipline (we have a 14 month old), and this is great! Thanks for sharing.
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