There have been many debates over whether time out; removing your child from what he or she is doing or from their favourite things for a period of time, is an effective discipline technique.
People who debate that putting a child in time out works effectively for discipline argue that removing them from the situation in which they misbehaved and putting them in a quiet corner allows them to think about what they have done without any physical consequences.
However, many people including childrearing consultant Dr. Peter Haiman have argued that time out “is not an appropriate way for parents to cope with the misbehaviour of their children” for multiple reasons. Dr. Haiman argues that children often misbehave because their needs of love, attention or other reasons and so separating them from you can develop separation anxiety as their needs continue to be unmet. Thus, this in turn can create even more frustration and misbehaviour. Dr. Haiman also argues that this can cause more long-term effects such as skin scratching and nail biting, as the child can feel nervous, unloved and hurt by the separation.
If you are sure that your child’s normal needs are being met; they are nourished and have been given attention, love and have been listened to and they are still misbehaving, time out might still be an option if you think it’s the right thing to do. Nevertheless, what people on both sides of this debate agree with is that time out should only be used safely and positively.
Here are a few tips on how to use time out effectively.
The time-out room
Ensure that the time-out room is safe, well lit and comfortable. However, it shouldn’t have anything that could invoke interest or distract your child from thinking about what they have just done.
Period of time
The period of time that a child is in time out is age-dependent. For any age the time should be brief but try to keep a minute per year old. For example; a 2 year old should be put in a 2-minute time out.
Teach your child about what time out is and why it is used
Teaching your child clearly the rules of time out and why it is being used allows for them to understand exactly what is happening instead of feeling punished for nothing. Explaining that certain behaviours lead to them being put in time out also allows for them to understand what is happening more.
Be consistent and in the moment
It’s important to keep consistent and in the moment when using the technique. Using the technique for a misbehaviour your child has done hours ago will not work, as your child will most likely have moved on mentally and be unable to think about what they did.
If you are in public find a quiet spot around where you are where you can stand with your child and explain why this is happening.