Before I get into if timeouts are good or bad. I would like to talk about how they should be implemented correctly. Timeouts can have a better result when you implement them at an early age. According to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should give a child timeout for a minute for every year of the child. Prior to implementing the timeout, I encourage my parents to talk with their child. Discuss what they did wrong and the consequences of the negative action. You do not need to give this a lot of energy because you do not want your child to think you are glorifying the negative behavior. Timeouts should be done in the same space your child displayed the unwanted behavior.
The importance of disciplining your child in the space of the negative behavior is to allow your child to recognize what they have done wrong. While giving him or her the opportunity to correct the action in the place it was unwanted. While following up with a positive reinforcement to the corrected behavior from you child. By reinforcing the corrected behavior your child will continue to display the wanted behavior. Complimenting your child when he/she is being good or does something good for someone else will continue to reinforce wanted behavior.
When parents are struggling with the decision of implementing timeout, it’s important to first take a survey of self. If this is your first child, you now have to decide if you’re going to be the disciplinarian, both parent will take on this role or if you’re going to give that position to the other parent/guardian in your child’s life. Once you’ve both made that choice, you then understand as a parent, how you’d handle situations. Next evaluate your ability to handle strenuous situations and your irritability level. Many parents do not take the time to consider this prior to having children or prior to the first time they have to discipline there child. The importance of this will be seen when you attempt to implement a timeout while displaying frustration or anger. Your child is going to mimic your behavior. Negative behaviors will be embraced faster by a young child than the positive.
Some disadvantages to using timeouts; it invites power struggle between you and your child. Some have seen resentment, anger and frustration from their children. Communication wise, you are limiting the amount of effective communication between you and your child.
The advantages of implementing timeouts are, they put limits on negative behaviors, increases consistency. Timeouts were initially developed for children with ADD and can sometimes attain short term goals of stopping misbehavior in your child.
More advantages and disadvantages can be found in the article “123 Time Out Advantages and Disadvantage.
Finally the implementation of timeouts are ultimately up to you “the parent”. If you do decide to use this form of disciplinary with your child remember, you start this with your child from an early age. Trying to implement this with older children will be difficult and just frustrating for you as a parent while enhancing the negative behaviors between you and your child.
For further information on this topic and many other parenting inquires you can read other blogs post from your local T.P.C. (The Parent Counselor)
Gail Wilson, MS, The Parent Counselor
Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern
Clinical Fellow Member of AAMFT
MGS Counseling and Therapy Services, LLC
Tel. (754) 999-0410