Should Parents Use The Time-Out Method?

Raise your hand if you were ever put in time-out as a child? How about when you became a parent, did you use the time-out method? Better yet, maybe you’re currently trying it out on your 5 year old.

Traditionally, the time-out method involved a frustrated parent, an upset child, and a corner. But family doctors and child psychologists are suggesting the age-old way of time-out is being done unsucessfully.

Some children will sit in the corner, head down, and think about what they did wrong. Others will fight back, and it quickly turns into a battle of the child running away and the parent trying to put them back into the corner.

Experts say in order for time-out to work, parents need to use the time-in method as well, according to

Time-in is when a parent positively reinforces their child for good behavior. This can be physically with a pat on the back or hug, or it can be by verbally praising them.

The main point of a time-in is to engage with the child when they are behaving well. That means when it comes to time-out, parents need to not interact or engage when they are acting out.

When children act out they are looking for attention. Even negative attention from their parents is still attention.

So instead of having a showdown of whits with your child, experts suggest not reinforcing the bad behavior and learning to explain to them you will not give them attention until they start acting nice.

Time-out is meant to be a time away from the issue that is causing them to act out. It is also meant to help teach children how to be aware of their emotions and learn to calm themselves down when they are upset.

Another way the time-out method fails is when parents make their child sit on a chair for a certain amount of time. Not only does this shame the child, it also defeats the purpose if parents are chasing them around insisting they sit down.

Time-out isn’t meant to be timed, it’s meant to be a time away from whatever is going on to allow the child to calm down. Although experts do agree if your child needs physical time away to relax, a special chair might be a good thing to have for them.

The point is to make it a safe space they know they can turn to if they feel overwhelmed, not a tool to shame them. Again, this helps them learn to be aware of their emotions and how to calm themselves down.

Overall, the time-out method does work when used correctly, and teaching children how to self soothe and calm down only helps them understand their emotions and actions better.