Why I don’t believe in time outs


A lot of people ask about why I am against time outs for children. I hope these two links will explain my point of view. As usual, read the whole article for a more detailed information, or satisfy your curiosity with a short preview selected by me.

First link explaining what’s wrong with time outs:

“For generations, parents have sought a reliable and dependable way to handle childhood misbehavior. The most recent and popular discipline technique is time-out. Although time-out is better than spanking, it is not an appropriate way for parents to cope with the misbehavior of their children. Moreover, the use of time-out can create subsequent childhood behavior problems. These problems can affect the well-being of the child and severely strain the parent-child relationship.

When time-out is used, parents first firmly demand that their child stop misbehaving and be quiet. The child is then usually required to go and sit alone in a room, away from parents, and admonished not to come out of the room until they are sure that they can control their behavior. Being placed in time-out prolongs the time that a child must endure the frustrated need that caused their misbehavior. Thus, unmet normal needs become increasingly uncomfortable as the time-out continues. Young children depend upon, want to be with, love, and need their parents.

What exacerbates this increasingly uncomfortable state of being frustrated is the fact that the child must be alone, away from the parents who they must rely upon to meet their needs, This enforced separation from their basic source of comfort, security, and well-being adds considerably to the woe of a child. Moreover, being alone in time-out can create additional disturbing feelings that the child must endure. Painful emotions like fear and worry often develop. A frustrated child who must sit quietly and alone in time-out frequently becomes angry. Although the youngster dare not express this anger when in time-out, the child often expresses it by becoming angry and defiant sometime after being released from time-out. The practice of separating a child in time-out from parents can in itself become the cause of future misbehavior, because being alone and in time-out increases the frustrations felt by a child who is already frustrated.

Interpersonal dilemmas and conflicts are best resolved when each individual has sufficient opportunity to talk to and be heard by the other person. Modeling, initiating, and practicing the process of open dialogue is essential if a youngster is to learn healthy problem solving. Does time-out lend itself to this process? Helping children talk about how they feel, combined with parental patience, is required if children are to develop the ability to verbalize their feelings and needs rather than act them out.”

Second link on a better alternative:

“Here are some tips for using positive time-outs with the different age groups of childhood.

Infants and Toddlers

Infants and toddlers are too young for time-outs. They are not developmentally ready to be in charge of self-soothing. Nor can they understand the connections between their behaviors and the time-out, so the lessons of time-out are lost on them.
Instead of calling for a time-out, remove the child from the scene or from whatever is upsetting or frustrating her.
Stay with her to comfort her and help her learn to soothe herself. The focus is on helping her develop her self-calming and self-control skills, not on punishing her for the lack or failure of those skills.
Redirect her to a more acceptable activity or behavior.


Time-outs can begin with preschoolers, but the parent will stay with the child. Laps and snuggling are great time-out places. Taking a nap can be a time-out option.
Have a “cozy corner” or other safe, comforting place where the child can retreat for comfort and renewal. He should be encouraged to use it under his own initiative as well as at the parent’s direction. In it there should be comforting objects, such as stuffed animals, soft blankets, books to read or quiet activities.
As the child becomes more adept at being comforted and self-comforting, the cozy corner becomes more of a concept than a particular place.

School-Age Children

Cozy corners for school age children can still have the preschool comforters. Children may also want to have writing or drawing supplies. Drawing pictures of how hurt or angry she feels can be a great way of releasing those negative feelings. Listening to or making quiet music; practicing calming techniques such as slow breathing or yoga; or journal writing are other possibilities. Think of what your child enjoys or of what helps you.
The child is in charge of the length of the time-out. The goal is for her to take ownership of calming herself down. If she is focused on the clock ticking away the length of her servitude, she is not paying attention to her internal state and her external behaviors; to learning when she is calm and what helps her calm down.

Time-outs for adolescents are similar to the ones we take as adults. We cannot send a teen to time-out, but we can make recommendations. “Would you like to take some time for yourself right now? Maybe go some place quiet or go for a walk.”
You can extend an open offer to help the teen with problem-solving or to just listen. Your teen may take you up on the offer then, much later, or not at all.”


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