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April 15, 2024

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Discipline: When Does Time Out Work?

TIme out for kids confuses parents who worry over what's "right" and what's "wrong." Here's help.

Some parents insist Time Out works as a disciplinary measure for kids, others are not so sure. No matter what, you DO need a discipline strategy with kids.

The Scene:

You’re attempting to discipline your 4-year-old for repeatedly disobeying you. You have placed her in a chair in the corner of the room. She wants to know why she has to be in Time Out at all.

Do You:

• Tell her she needs to think about what her actions meant and why they were wrong? • Tell her that if she persists in talking back to you she’ll stay in Time Out longer? • Tell her just forget it and let her out of Time Out?

What Experts Say:

In best-selling author John Gray’s book, Children are From Heaven (Harper Perennial; 2001), Gray explains how to get the best results from Time Out. When children question your authority to place them in Time Out the simple answer is this: “When we get out of control, we need a Time Out.” It it neither accurate or helpful, Gray writes, to say that a child needs some Time Out to think about what she did wrong. Thinking in a Time Out is not necessary, nor is it age-appropriate. All that is needed is for the child to feel emotions that come up; automatically the child regains control. Gray also explains that when parents focus too much on right and wrong with children, the only things kids learn to feel is guilt. Instead, just ask your child for better behavior.


About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.