Do Time-Outs Hurt Children?

Do Time-Outs Hurt Children?

Timeouts, also called quite corners, going-to-the-room, and silence corner, were often used in the vast repertoire of childhood discipline. The theory behind it is to remove the child from the conflict and place him or her in a quiet corner, giving them time to think about their actions and also serves as a punishment.

Recently, many experts have discovered that timeouts may have long-lasting consequences on a child’s emotional and behavioral well being. According to Daniel J. Siegel, a professor of clinical psychiatry at UCLA who wrote No-Drama Discipline: The Whole Brain Way To Calm The Chaos And Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. He states that timeouts offer isolation to a child. Even if it presented in a loving and patient manner, a timeout teaches a child that if they are facing a difficulty or if they have done something wrong, they will be by themselves. This lesson is usually experienced as rejection by young children. Timeouts also send the message that “I will only be there for you when you have your act together”. Many brain studies have revealed that when the child’s brain is repeatedly exposed to isolation, it can actually affect the brain’s structure. Feelings of isolation and abandonment can mimic physical pain effects in the brain.

Dr. Siegel further states that when a child is placed in a timeout, he or she will think about how unfair and mean their mom or dad is, and they miss out on the chance of developing problem-solving skills and empathy. Parents should engage in dialogue, set clear limits, and emphasize conversation, respect, and collaboration. This gives children a chance to practice becoming empowered decision makers.

Some experts such as Dr. Judith Locke state that when timeouts are done correctly they can be effective. She stipulates that timeouts have gotten a bad rap sheet because it is seen as a negative thing. A time out is used to calm a child down without making applying any punishment. When a time out is done properly, it means an adult take the child and sits with him away from the situation and encourages the child to calm down. Then the adult engages in conversation about the emotional reasons behind the outburst or negative behavior. Children under the age of 10 do not have the mental capacity to understand how their actions impact others. These skills take some time to develop. This is when a supervised timeout with an adult by their side helps to make the child feel secure while calming down at the same time.

Responding to an angry and upset child is never easy. It is especially difficult to discipline a child. Methods that work for one child differ greatly for other children. If parents are finding it especially difficult to deal with their child’s temper tantrums, then they should seek professional help.