Parenting: The 'time-out' - does it work?

November 7, 2011

"Absolutely! I feel so much better not going for the spanking option. My child responds to the 'one, two, three!' countdown each time and changes his/her behavior."

"Not in the slightest. The whole idea of a time-out is silly. What is this, pee-wee football? Sometimes a light smack is just what the kid needs."

For those who have not been informed by this parenting technique, the time-out usually goes like this:

Step 1: My child is misbehaving. Prepare stern voice.
Step 2: Warn the child. "I am going to put you in a time-out if you don't stop (whatever the child is doing wrong)."
Step 3: Begin the countdown. "Alright, here we go. One...two..."
Step 4: Count much more slowly between two and three, giving the child time to contemplate the decision to stop misbehaving.
Step 5: Reach the count of three. Place the child in the "time-out" area (a corner, the stairs, a bedroom, etc.).
Step 6: End time out (duration depends on the child's age).

Since issuing time-outs to children who are being nasty continues to be a fad (seems to have started picking up a little more than a decade ago) here is an alternative view on the technique.

It comes from the parenting blog www.parentingmyths.webs.com. The author of the article says this of time-outs:

1) It is hard to discipline a child this way until they are about three years old, younger children may not understand the process
2) Despite being disciplined, the child still needs to cooperate and remain in the "time-out" position - and not wiggle free or run away
3) By the time the time-out clock is on, the child may have forgotten why he or she is being punished in the first place
4) Parents tend to make the time-out too long for younger children, and not long enough for older ones

Here is a link to the article: http://parentingmyths.webs.com/3timeoutswork.htm

Here is another article echoing the sentiment, but for a different reason: http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/peter_haiman.html

And here is an article advocating time-outs, and how to properly execute one: http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/time_out.html/context/457

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