“When my child screams, kicks, cries, starts hitting or throwing things, and has a full-blown out tantrum, then I know there is only one thing that will stop this behaviour. I’ll give them a TIME-OUT!”
Just like most parents, I also believed that giving time-outs to my children is a good disciplining strategy. After all, it’s been recommended by other parents and even pediatricians so it has to work, right?
But, there are some reasons why time-outs aren’t as effective as you may think they are. If we think along the lines of the above scenario, how would sending your child to a corner in their room, isolating them from the rest of the family for a required period of time teach them to behave in a better manner? There is simply no correlation between the problem at hand and the way you’re trying to solve it –by pushing it to where it can’t be seen.
How do you even enforce a proper time-out when the child is overwhelmed by their emotions and not ready to listen? You physically have to place them in the corner, only for them to keep coming back every two minutes. It just doesn’t work.
Here is what you can do instead:
Set up logical consequences
If your aim is to discipline your child, help them amend their behaviour and for them to learn better control over their emotions, then your strategy has to be logical. And, it has to make sense to your child. For example, if your child throws things then they have to be the one to clean it up. If your child is hitting, then they immediately have to apologize to whoever they hit.
Matching the action to its reaction helps the child make connections in their brain that what they do can have a consequence and it also teaches them the responsibility of their own actions.
Taking away privileges
If you have rules in your household, then you should also discuss with your children what will happen when those rules are broken. One way would be by taking away a privilege they have currently such as getting an hour of screen-time daily or playing with a certain toy. It can be anything that holds value to them and they would definitely miss it if they didn’t have it. If he or she misbehaves then you can try taking away the privilege for a short amount of time.
It’s a good idea to only take away the privilege for a few hours or a day instead of a longer time because it gives a chance for kids to make better choices to get their privilege back
Instead of sending your child to a corner or to their room for a time-out, you can try using a warning system. For example, say you’ll count to three before imposing a consequence. Let them hear you say, “I’ll count to three before you stop hitting your brother. 1—2—and 3.” This will give them a jolt and give them time to rethink their behaviour and actions.
Instead of giving a time-out, give a time-in
Time-outs can isolate a child and sometimes make them feel lonely when they are away from the whole family. So, instead of doing a traditional ‘time-out’, give your child a chance to step away from the issue and regain control of their emotions. This could mean letting them go for a walk, asking them to do additional chores or maybe even paying a fine if they receive an allowance.
Remember, our goal is not to punish our children but rather to teach them that there are consequences to their actions. You can try these ‘better than time-out techniques’ to help them improve their behaviour.
What You Can Do Next?
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ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what to do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognized in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.
As a child, she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult, this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
This is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.