Are Time Outs a Thing of the Past?

There are many schools of thought on the right way to discipline young children. Everyone is aware of the controversy around corporal punishment, but did you know that the use of time outs is considered wrong as well?

There are new studies that show that any form of punishment can be damaging to a child’s sense of self, leading to anxiety and depression. The belief is that by punishing a child, we are in fact shaming them. So, what do they propose you do instead?

It is more about redirecting than actually punishing for some wrong doing. The idea is that children are generally just behaving like children and more often than not, they are not actually trying to do something wrong. For the most part, I agree with this assessment. I know I have often seen when children seem gob smacked by the caregiver’s reaction to their behavior. Generally, children can be redirected or spoken with about their feelings and ways that they could have handled something better. But what about those times where they are truly being defiant? Should we be opposed to spanking and time outs in those cases?

In my experience, timeouts can work wonders when a child is too wound up to follow directions. And for children who become defiant once in a while a swat on the butt might go a long way. I know many of you are probably shocked and outraged by the very idea of a child being spanked, and I have to say that I once upon a time fell into that camp as well. That is until I had my second child that really seemed to need the external influence to warrant his effort to control himself. When I would try to put him in a time out he would kick and spit and sometimes even head butt me. He needed a lot of redirection and calm authority to help him to learn to manage his emotions, but sometimes the only thing that worked was a spanking. I wish that hadn’t been the case because I was such a strong advocate against spanking that it really was an internal struggle to do what I needed to keep him safe, but I truly believe there were occasions that it was necessary.

That being said, I think the new books out there about redirection and teaching kids to manage their emotions really speak to the child’s and the parent’s heart for one another. These principles will go a long way to helping children to grow and learn to be aware of their emotions and their actions. But please, do not allow them to pigeon hole you into parenting against your own instincts. You are the only one that can see the whole picture. Keep your child’s best interest in mind and do nothing out of anger and read, read, read. The more you read the more naturally you will find your own beliefs and be able to put them to work for you and your children.