Are timeouts just as bad as yelling and spanking?
The lasting effects of time outs on kids may go deeper than you realise...
All mums and dads have been there — wrestling with wanting to care for their kids while keeping them in line. You might have had to hold your tongue or stretch your patience as far as humanly possible before deciding time outs are better than yelling or spanking. But have you wondered if the effects of time outs are just as problematic?
Are the effects of time outs more serious than parents realise?
While today’s parents grew up in a generation where physical discipline might have been the norm, many of them have taken a more “modern” and less punitive approach to discipline, like giving kids time outs.
There’s no doubting the good effects of time outs; it is a “mild” form of discipline that doesn’t overly frighten kids. And most importantly, it doesn’t involve physical punishment.
But there are potentially harmful effects of time outs that should be discussed.
Time outs can be punitive too
Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D, who co-authored a book entitled No-Drama Discipline writes in an article for TIME how time outs can be harmful to your child’s developing brain.
Time outs involve placing kids in a designated spot to reflect on their misbehaviour, but Dr. Siegel and Dr. Bryson caution parents against using time outs as a way to punish a child instead of using it as a teaching opportunity.
Time outs can make kids feel isolated
Some parents use time outs to cool off rather than to regulate their kid’s behaviour. Let’s face it, sending your child off to a corner to be quiet is an ideal way to manage your own anger.
But when parents banish kids to their rooms, it could make them feel that their parent is angry at them and not at what they did. What’s more, kids could misunderstand, thinking that parents are incapable of regulating their own emotions.
Isolation can lead to feelings of rejection. Research has found that when we feel rejected by someone we love, our brain activity can be likened to that of someone experiencing physical pain.
Time outs can make kids feel ashamed
As a result of time outs that separate them from mum or dad, kids can feel shame, They can begin associating negativity with time outs. This may not result in changes in behaviour, writes clinical psychologist Mary C. Lamia in Psychology Today.
Yes, shame and guilt are human emotions worth learning how to deal with. But when your child is very young, it could cause them to retreat into themselves instead of being open to changing their behaviour.
Here to focus on the good effects of time outs
If you’re wondering if time outs are just as bad as spanking, the answer is NO, if they are done with the intent to educate and not humiliate.
Time outs with empathy are the key
Parents can help children navigate through overwhelming feelings through listening. They can help build their child’s communication skills, offering a safe space in which their child can openly discuss needs with fear of criticism.
Not only will time outs with empathy help children express themselves, they can help kids learn how to deal with intense emotions and future conflicts as grown-ups.
Time outs can be an opportunity to get to know your child
Good discipline and effective time outs do not isolate a child from their parent, but rather they teach the child to rely on their parent through confusing times.
Most importantly, advises Dr. Lamia, don’t lose sight of the purpose of discipline, which is “teaching, guiding and explaining what was wrong and what to do instead.”
Use time outs to strengthen closeness
Kids have this deep need to connect with you; they crave a profound relationship with mum and dad. They need to know that their misbehaviour, though not without consequences, won’t change how mum and dad feels about them.
Instead of banishing kids to their rooms, why not let them sit in a corner of a room to reflect? In this way, physical proximity reinforces your connectedness and closeness.
Yes, they misbehaved, but they are not alone. You still love them the same, and they are, at their core, still good kids who are capable of better behaviour.
Do you think time outs are a good idea? Let us know in the comments below.