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It was the rage in parenting in the 90's. The TV shows "Super Nanny" and "Nanny 911" used it all the time -- the  "Time Out" method of discipline.

Time Out was created by by Arthur Staats in his extended work with his daughter (and later son), and was part of a long-term program of behavioral analysis beginning in 1958 that treated various aspects of child development.

The purpose is to isolate or separate the child for a short period of time (usually 5 to 15 minutes) in order to allow the child to calm down, as well as to discourage inappropriate behavior. Time-outs can be on a chair, step, corner, bedroom, or any other location where there are no distractions. The child should be old enough to sit still and is required to remain there for a fixed period.

It seemed to work for some kids and it also gave the parent a time out if the child was having a major fit and screaming or throwing things. It was a way for everyone to reflect and calm down.

But times have changed and with that comes brand new discipline styles and ideas. Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D., author of "How Toddlers Thrive" says time-outs make no sense.

They're not healthy for your child's emotional well-being now or later, and they're not effective in terms of curbing "bad" behavior, Klein argues. If you're constantly giving your child a time out, that tells you something, doesn't it?

Two other child psychology experts, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., explain they're not big fans of the time out method. They believe when the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet.

In fact, they say, brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain — like that caused by rejection — looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity.

Dr. Peter Haiman of the Natural Child project feels time out can have a lasting effect emotionally on a child. He says that for the frustrated and uncomfortable child, time out offers enforced silence and the feeling of being rejected by one's parents.

A youngster who misbehaves and then is given time-out feels hurt, Haiman says. This hurt, combined with the frustration that caused the youngster to misbehave, gives birth to anger. And discipline practices like time out, which create hurt and anger, can harm a child and create life-long emotional effects.


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