I need to know more about time outs - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 01-13-2006, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, I am knew to this forum. Although i generally parent in a Ap way, when it comes to discipline, I just don't know what to do. My first reaction is time out, which I used with my 7 year old son, I'm not even sure it it works. Now I've caught myself tempted top do it with my 19 month old, and also getting loud with her, not yelling just saying it real loud stuff like "that was not nice". Anyway can someone explain the pros and cons to time out's ,or refer me to a good book ,or website. thankyou
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#2 of 11 Old 01-13-2006, 01:38 PM
 
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Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting is in line with my thinking about time-outs.

It is a controversial book, but as it speaks pretty directly right along with my intuition, I have nothing negative to say.

His stance (very simpified here) is that they are fine if the child wants and initiates a period of cooling off. But if it is forced upon the child that the be separated from their caregiver that it is really emotional withholding and disproportionately frightening to the child.

The orinial name for "time-out" was acutally "time-out from positive reinforcement" from a 1958 paper titled "Control of Behavior in Chimpanzees and Pigeons by Time-out from Positive Reinforcement." It was from a colleage of the behaviorist Skinner.

I'm not a fan of "behaviorism". Many here have other opinions...

HTH!
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#3 of 11 Old 01-13-2006, 01:54 PM
 
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I 2nd what Aira said. All of it.
Also, I'd like to add that I don't think that time-outs would help a 19 month old learn at all. For a young child to learn NOT to do something, imo they need to know what they can do instead. Time out doesn't teach that, and I think its a bit of a stretch to expect a young child to come up with that on her own, especially while she's upset because she's in a time out! (not saying you do that, or that you would. Just stating that in general)
Also, time outs (with the exeption of voluntary time outs) take away the opportunity to learn from a given situation. Say, ds is hitting the dog. If I resorted to time outs, there is a lot that would be missed from that situation. What he'd learn is this- if I hit the dog (when mom can see me), I go to time out. Honestly, I don't think young kids (maybe even older kids) can learn much more than that, even if you explain your reasons.
What I want him to learn is this- It hurts the dog when I hit her. She doesn't like it. I can pet her gently, she likes when I do that. Or I can hit the couch, or one of my toys.
So that's what I tell him. And he definitely does learn from that, at 17 mos old. Not to say he NEVER hits the dogs, but when he does (rarely now) it takes only a small reminder. It seems like he just forgot, or got really wrapped up in playing with them, and isn't aware.
The hitting was stopped, in a short time, with no one getting upset. Ds was treated with respect the whole time, and we had no need to resort to behaviorism.

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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#4 of 11 Old 01-13-2006, 03:43 PM
 
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I use time-outs, but I use them like you would in sports. We stop what we're doing, huddle (or cuddle) up and figure out what's going wrong with our game plan, so to speak. We use it as a cooling down period, a calming moment to solve problems and reflect. Sometimes my dd does it alone, too, if she's really overwrought. But I don't enforce this, I just ask her if she wants to sit alone and read a book, and if she agrees, she does.

We try not to use threats or punishments, so that's why we don't use it as a negative consequence. I personally feel that punishments are distracting and unecessary. I think they distract the child from the real problem, anger and frighten them, and allow them to place blame/responsibility on their parents instead of themselves. Plus, then you're going to have to threaten your child, as in, "If you don't stop doing that, I'm going to put you in Time Out." That implies you have no faith in your child, and then I think you'll have to keep upping the ante, as well.

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#5 of 11 Old 01-13-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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With my daughter (my son is only 5 mos so it hasn't become an issue), I have noticed that she has trouble most when she is tired so we use a form of time out, albeit what I consider to be a nonpunitive one. Dd is a very intense child and I think sometimes gets burned out and needs time to regroup. We use the idea of a 'comfort corner'...a comfortable place she can go to regroup. She is 4 now and will give herself breaks in it herself when she is feeling out of control and needs to regroup.

I started working on teaching her the concept of taking time to regroup though probably at about 15-16 months. For example, if she seemed like she needed a break (either because of a behavior issue or something) I would reflect her feelings to her and then suggest we regroup in our comfort corner. I would say something like "C, you seem frustrated (or sad or angry or whatever)...why don't we take a little break in the comfort corner." And I would take her over and snuggle with her for a bit. When she seemed calmer, we would get up and do something else.

Eventually, she would use the comfort corner by herself and got to where she go on her own.

I think using it in that way helped in 2 ways:
1. It gave her a place she could go to regroup. And everyone, including me!, needs that sometimes I think.
2. It helped her realize that her big feelings were okay. It was okay to feel mad, frustrated or just plain angry and gave her a place to work those out in a way that was respectful to the other people in our house. (ie a place to regroup so she could express her feelings without screaming or hitting etc).

Anyway, so that is what we have done in our family with the 'time out' issue.

HTH
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#6 of 11 Old 01-14-2006, 06:16 PM
 
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I like these time out ideas of a comfort corner or a huddle-time. I really resonate with Kohn's perspective that a traditional time out (forced by the parent on the child, and separating the parent from the child) plays on the child's deepest fear: abandonment by the parent. Of course, that's not what parents intend to communicate, but Kohn makes a compelling case based on research that this is how kids understand time-outs. We all need breaks sometimes, but in my experience (I used to work with preschoolers) small children need guidence in understanding their feelings. So while I may benefit from time alone in my room, a child needs an adult to take them aside and either talk about things or just snuggle quietly.
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#7 of 11 Old 01-14-2006, 07:47 PM
 
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Not much else I can add to this!

teapot2.GIF Homeschooling, Homesteading Mama to DD ('02) and DS ('04)  ribbonjigsaw.gif blogging.jpg homeschool.gif

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#8 of 11 Old 01-14-2006, 08:25 PM
 
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#9 of 11 Old 01-14-2006, 09:41 PM
 
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This is what I learned about time out in college, and why I don't use it.

Time out was originally intended for use with special needs and severely mentally disturbed children. It was originally used only in situations where these children would become violent, injuring themselves, other kids and their caregivers. The kids had to be isolated until they could calm down. It was done for their protection and the protection of others when injury would have been the alternative.

Slowly, it began to be used in regular education classrooms, preschools and eventually by parents, who first learned of the technique through schools. The use of time out has gotten completely out of control and very far away from its original intent. It was never meant to be used for minor problems, such as talking back, refusing to pick up toys and other behaviors like this. Most teacher workshops I have attended in the last few years before I quit to stay home were anti time out for these reasons.

Since it is used so often, the technique is pretty ineffective for changing behavior. Also, the original intent was to protect the self and others from physical harm, not necessarily to punish the child for the violent behavior. Time out has become very punitive, causing the child to focus on the punishment and separation, rather than any productive outcome from its use.

I don't send my kids to time out or isolate them from me. In cases of big tantrums or out of control behavior, I have used a "time in". I hold dd on my lap and comfort her until the tantrum ends and she calms down. This is not forcefully holding her down, but soothing, rocking and comforting her through a tantrum. Probably similar to the "huddle time" described by a pp.
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#10 of 11 Old 01-15-2006, 02:46 AM
 
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We are now trying to un-do timeouts. We originally started them six months ago when DS was 2. We read Dr. Sears and it seemed to us that we "should" begin to use them to deal with certain behavior. In short, we would hold DS on our lap for a minute or two after a warning. Now we realize these totally don't work for the reasons other PPs have mentioned. Not to mention, they just didn't "feel" right at all. I gave them up a few months back and have been doing what other PP have mentioned re: deep breaths with DS, listening to what is happening and to him and figuring the cause (hunger, frustration, tired, etc.) and acting accordingly or doing the redirecting or distraction if it isn't hunger, tired or needing to vent (e.g., with pulling dogs tail after I say, we don't pull his tail, it hurts and then say softly, etc. and if that works, great. If he is in a mood to push it, I say it again and then go over and start tickling him and say, soft silly, soft. We love our dog and want to be gentle, tickle, tickle. He laughs and forgets about it all. It requires lost of intervention and distraction but works much better than timeouts and verbally warning and saying don't do this blah blah blah. DH is weaning himself from timeouts and verbal orders as he would say, if you do so and so, you are doing a timeout (timout meaning a minute in DH's lap). But the tone and approach was definitely punitive and not effective for the long haul. It may get DS to stop sometimes but not others and just set up a battle of wills and felt icky. Also, it caused DS lots of distress and me too. So, we are working on DH doing the gentler method of hugs, huddles, etc. and prevention/distraction/redirecting
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#11 of 11 Old 01-15-2006, 03:22 AM
 
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Time Out stands for Time Out From Reinforcement. It simply means that whatever is maintaining the undesireable behavior is removed for a short period of time. For example, if a child is hitting the dog, the dog would be removed. If a child is hitting mommy, mommy would move out of reach for a short period of time.

Somehow, Time Out has become "remove the child" rather than remove the reinforcer in mainstream parenting. Removing the child is punishment, usually, especially if the child does not wish to be removed, or the child is forced into isolation. Removing the reinforcer is not punishment.

Time Out From Reinforcement is what you do when you are at a loss to figure out a replacement behavior, or someone is getting hurt NOW. A replacement behavior is simply finding another activity that is also reinforcing and meets the needs of the child but does so in a desireable, or at least, not undesireable way. It is always far better to teach what to DO than what NOT TO DO. For example, if a child is hitting the dog, suggesting or teaching or showing him to pet the dog in a way that the dog likes is a perfect replacement behavior.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deva33mommy
What I want him to learn is this- It hurts the dog when I hit her. She doesn't like it. I can pet her gently, she likes when I do that. Or I can hit the couch, or one of my toys...

...and we had no need to resort to behaviorism.
Very excellent use of behaviorism, actually
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