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5 Reasons Giving Your Child a Time-Out Is Not Working
  • In your journey as a parent, you will find yourself trying out different methods to discipline your child to find the one that would bring out his best behavior. Some parents believe in dialogue, while others withhold privileges. Some resort to spanking, and some others do time-outs. Whichever you use is completely up to you based on your principles, really. Of these, the most often-used method is the time-out.

    Most of us think the principle behind the time-out is to, first, remove the child from the environment where the misbehavior happened, and two, give him some alone time so he could reflect on what he did wrong. However, just as there are believers, there are also those who say time-outs don’t work.

    A recent study conducted by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University claims there’s a proper way to do time-outs, and parents who don’t get the intended results are probably doing these 5 mistakes.

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    Why time-outs don’t work

    1. You don't know what time-outs are for.

    According to Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D., author of Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids, the purpose of a time-out isn’t to give the child time to think, but to prevent a situation from getting out of hand. “A time-out is primarily a ‘Let’s stop things from getting worse’ strategy,” she says. “In the history of the universe, no children have ever gone to their rooms to ‘Think about what you did!’ They’re thinking about their parents’ meanness. The learning starts after the time-out, when you can say, ‘Okay, let’s try again.’”


    2. You give your child attention. 

    We’re all aware that in some cases, kids (consciously or subconsciously) act out to get their parents’ attention — even negative attention. Thus, the point of the time-out should be to withhold it. Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and author of Toddler 411, says, “It’s simply the lack of parental attention for a short period of time that lets a child see that his behavior led to losing attention instead of getting it.”

    3. You're using time-outs all the time.

    Even if you find them effective, you shouldn’t use time-outs in every incident. Research found that this method is best used when a child has become physically violent and is purposely defying your orders. Still, time-outs must be imposed reasonably. “[Time-outs] should be reserved for particular offenses that could cause injury to your child or someone else,” adds Dr. Brown.

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    How to do time-outs properly (and with best results)

    1. Give only one warning before a time-out.

    Not only does it save you from prolonged back-and-forths with your child, but it also tells him you really mean business. Says Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., a professor of family science, you should proceed call the time-out if your child does not obey five seconds after the warning. “When you call for a time-out and mean what you say, children will learn to listen,” he tells Parents.

    2. Don’t send him to his room.

    It’s his room, after all, and he’s naturally most comfortable in there, not to mention that there are toys or other activities there he could use to pass the time. After reminding him of what he did wrong, send him to a plain corner for a few minutes.         

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    3. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

    ...not even when he tries to reason out (negative attention is still attention), or asks for water, or asks if the time is almost up. and don’t even begin lecturing him (“I warned you already.”) during this time.

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