Does Timeout Really Work

We as a parent often feel helpless when we see our kid misbehaving or dealing with the infamous “toddler tantrums.” Earlier, things were simple (I guess) either we used to get scolded by our parent for misbehaving or else a good thrashing awaited until dad got back home from work. Anyhow, most of us turned out well even with all those scolding and thrashing.

However, “parenting experts” these days are cohesive against physical punishment that studies repeatedly show impacts child’s emotional, moral and even intellectual growth.

So the question lies there whether to follow our parent’s footsteps?? Or go by as the experts’ advice? ,

Being a toddler’s parent how to keep yourself sane as well as the sanity of your child during meltdowns? Questions like this are often faced by us, how we can guide a 2, 3 or 4-year-old, who doesn’t have enough growth in the prefrontal cortex so far for a reason to outdo emotion, or mainly who might not have any interest in following the rules we live by!

Just like other parents, I was also introduced the concept of “Timeout.”

On the surface, it seems a sane option, they’re non-violent yet get the child’s attention. Moreover, they grant the child and parent a much-required break from each other when the emotions are not under control. However, any child could explain to you that time-outs are punishment. Why I am saying so because I too like any other parent was unable to control my daughter’s meltdown and misbehaviors and giving her timeouts. Poor soul also got a time out in school for being naughty.

But did the timeout solve the situation?

NO! It didn’t.

And it only worsened the situation more, I realized I made her feel bad about herself and somewhere I corroded my relation to her. I agree that timeouts are considerably better than hitting, but they impart the wrong lessons, and they certainly don’t work to shape them in well-behaved children. Here’s why.

  • It makes kids perceive themselves as bad people.
  • It doesn’t help them to learn emotional regulation including us.
  • It operates on fear and neglect.
  • It fuels power conflicts in them.
  • Instead of finding solutions, we’re making the problem all theirs.

What to do instead of Timeouts

Of course, I have not become an expert on this by understanding the situation as every day is a new day and a new situation/circumstance. But over the time I have started practicing instead of giving TIME OUT, I give TIME IN, when I see the warning signs and try to calm her down. When I started to listen and respond to her emotions and become her confidant. She calms down, listens, and understands what I have to say then.

Once the meltdown starts, it’s already too late for teaching. The thinking parts of their brain aren’t working right now just like us adults when we are angry or frustrated. If someone comforts us during that moment or assures us that they are there for us, we understand and calm down, the same is with kids, and they seek for a confidant in us.

But when you’re Losing It

So instead of using timeouts on your child, use that timeout on yourself. Yes because it will help to keep your own emotions in harmony. Isolate yourself from the situation, take 5 or 10 or 15, and come back to the battlefield once your head is again between your years. This will help you from being sorry later.

Well, it’s all about practice as it doesn’t happen overnight, I have been practicing this for quite some time since it has been quite effective but still fails to do so. I guess this is what makes us human.

What do you do?

What are your tools in this situation?

Hi there! I'm Niharika and this space is where I share my experiences. I am a movie lover, dreams of traveling the whole world, and finding the beauty in the everyday. So grab yourself a coffee, make yourself comfy, and I hope you enjoy your time here!
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13 thoughts on “Does Timeout Really Work

  1. Honestly that’s a lot easier said than done! My son is now finally out of the tantrum stage but when he’s particularly difficult, I find just a hint of time-out helps to discipline him (so we count to one-two-three before naughty corner is imposed!). This counting strategy seems to work for now. Though every kid, every parent and every situation is different.

  2. I loved the idea of time in. I try and talk to mine too but this is a good way to calm them and avoid a tantrum. Time out does send wrong signals. Thanks for sharinf

  3. I tried time out technique with my son too but I noticed that he became quiet and stubborn. So instead I talk to him and explain . Working so far. Fingers crossed 🤞

  4. Personally I believe we can not make fixed rules in parenting and It all depends on kids to kids..and even on parents too. some kids respond well to time out, while some other do not. I do use time out sometimes, when I feel so tired or irritated.

  5. Time-outs can be a good tool if the child understands the concept of time outs. But it cannot be applicable to every situation. I am always in favor of explaining the child what they did wrong. By giving them time outs and after the window is over, acting normal doesn’t solve the purpose and over the period of time, kids get used to time outs. Communication is the key and they need to be communicated where they went wrong. Sometimes, controlling our own emotional state (taking a self time out) and then addressing the situation with a calm mind solves the problem.

  6. So trues. Timeouts doesn’t work for kids especially the young ones. they start feeling more insecure and deserted. Instead i take timeout for myself. Go to washroom, wash my face and then come out after 5 minutes, all calmed down.

  7. My son Vaidik is 2.5 years old but he is a master manipulator. He knows when he has done something wrong and he will get scolded for it. I haven’t tried timeouts but we usually ask him to get his colors or favourite soft toys and play with them only for sometime.

  8. hey Niharika
    this is something really helpful and i really loved your idea of time in i think that is going to create a difference in my parenting .

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