TIME-OUT… Has Nothing to Do with Time!

Time-out is so misunderstood. Most parents use it to change their kids’ unruly behavior. Thinking as they have been told my tons of friends, neighbors and experts that if they leave their child alone for a few minutes they will surely think about what they did and choose not to do it again.

The first myth buster I want to tell you is, time never changes behavior.

Our prison system is a perfect example that this never works.

So when your kids are acting ‘a little criminal’ from your perspective remember if you put them in time-out that will stop their behavior for the moment, but it will never change their behavior.

The second myth buster is that kids know what to do or think about when they are ‘in time-out’. All they know is that it doesn’t feel so good to be separated from everyone, especially my parents, but kids don’t know what to do to change that. So you have to teach your kids what to do in time out.

For younger children give them their ‘lovey’, as that love object will help them feel like they are not alone. If they are older, teach them to either listen to music or move (jumping jacks) and that will help them change their mood.

In order to change behavior in your kids you have to teach them what ‘to do’ instead of giving all your time and attention to your kids when they do the stuff you wish they would stop doing.

It does not matter where you put kids for time out or how long they stay there. Just keep a close eye on them when they need to be separated from a situation because they just hurt someone with their words or their bodies. When they start to calm down, go to them and tell them how you are proud of them and they should be proud of themselves because they have stopped themselves.

Finally, a pretty famous amount of time to ‘ground your kids’ is two weeks.

What research tells us is that after 24 hours of regret and remorse for what they did kids just begin resenting their parents and spend the rest of their ‘grounding time’ thinking about how they can do it again without getting caught.

Time-out is NOT a CONSEQUENCE; it only stops a behavior. The best consequence for changing behavior is parents teaching their kids appropriate behavior and giving time and attention to their kid’s great behavior!

Parents spend some of your time-out thinking about it,

Dr. Ann