The Top Reasons Time Out Doesn’t Work

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  • September 17, 2013

time outI know that I normally talk about sleep, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a departure from that to focus on other parenting questions. In fact, I’ve received numerous questions about behavior, most commonly, what to do when your children misbehave.

Having children is wonderful…except when they’re frustrating, challenging, and just won’t listen. I talk to so many parents who are so very tired of nagging, yelling, and putting their kids in time out. For some parents, that works, but for many of us (myself included), the luster of those words and actions wear off, and our children just tune us out.

How long before your child just smiles at you when you correct their behavior? The more parents I talk to, the more I hear that time out just isn’t working…and that’s not surprising. But the real question is WHY doesn’t time out work?

Your Child Isn’t Developmentally Ready

Sometimes, it’s a matter of age. Your 2 year old isn’t able to really understand the concept of ‘time out’, and even a 3 or 4 year old may have trouble sitting still in one place for very long. It’s not that they want to raise your ire, but rather that they really don’t understand.

Time Out Reinforces the Negative

You may be surprised to hear this (I know that I was the first time that I realized this), but time outs only reinforce the negative. It shows our children that we’re paying attention to the NEGATIVE behaviors and reacting to them.

Time Outs Lose Their Appeal

Remember, this world is new to our children, and they’re just exploring. When your son puts the kitchen towels in the toilet and flushes, it’s not because he’s being ‘bad’, he really, truly wants to see what happens. I think that sometimes we forget this, and use time outs to correct every behavior, which actually renders them ineffective, and can even squash your child’s healthy (and annoying) budding curiosity.

No Chance to Learn

When you put a child into time out, you abruptly stop their behavior, (which may very well be a good thing in the case of the previous example) and you also take away the chance to learn something other than ‘mom puts me in time out when I play mad scientist’.

If you’re ready to change the way you discipline in your household, then I’ve got exciting news for you! I’ve partnered with Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions to bring you a FREE live training webinar on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 from 9-10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

This webinar is FREE, so sign up to reserve your spot here: http://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/webinars/the-sleep-lady.html

All you need is your computer. (No webcam required.) You’ll see and hear Amy on your screen and you can even ask questions and she’ll make them part of the presentation. Parents RAVE about this session. Join us to learn easy to implement strategies to get kids to cooperate without the slightest hint of fussing, whining or complaining.

If this sounds like something that your family can benefit from, I encourage you to block out an hour, you’ll be glad you did. Sign up now for Is Time Out a Waste of Time? Now. (It’s FREE!!)

Do you use time out in your home?

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photo credit: Ken Wilcox. via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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