time out

Transform Your Time-Outs To Time-Ins! Guest Post from Dr. Laura Markham

peaceful parent happy kidsWe are so pleased to have Dr. Laura Markham guest posting on the blog today. 

Do you use Time-Outs? They’re certainly better than spanking to show your child you’re serious about whatever limit you’re setting. But time-outs aren’t the best way to help kids want to behave and cooperate. Why?

1. Time-Outs don’t teach children to regulate their emotions.  You’re giving your child the message that his emotions are unacceptable in your presence – and that he’s all alone to learn to manage them.
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Webinar Questions Answered

amy mccready parent training webinar image

Thanks to the parents who participated in our free parent training webinar last night.

The topic “Why Time Out is a Waste of Time” generated a lot of great discussion and I didn’t have time to answer all of the questions. Listed below are answers to the few remaining questions…


Q: Can you give examples of using Encouragement?
A: I introduced the importance of understanding the difference between praise and encouragement. The more we use “praise”, the more children depend on US for approval. As they get older, they will look to peers, boyfriends/girlfriends for validation. The Po Bronson article that I posted on Facebook on 11/10/09 provides detailed information on the perils of praise, particularly as it relates to a child’s willingness to take on challenging or difficult tasks. This is an important read!

In our full online parenting classes, we go into great detail on the differences between praise and encouragement and how to use encouragement to foster intrinsic motivation and personal courage. Here are a few examples of encouraging phrases you can begin to use with your kids:

  • You must be really proud of yourself!
  • What do you like best about your picture/project?
  • Your hard work is paying off.
  • It’s just like you to be so thoughtful/persistent/caring.

Q: Is allowance a good idea?
A: Allowance is a great idea if used as a training tool. A weekly or monthly allowance teaches kids how to budget, save, give charitably, etc. Here’s a bank which I love:

Q: What are the consequences for “not listening?”
A: The appropriate consequence for “not listening” depends on what you asked the child to do in the first place. “Blanket” consequences are not a good choice for child discipline – we have to be more targeted in our approach. An effective consequence is one in which the child learns to make a better decision in the future and the mom/dad isn’t the “bad guy.” We discussed the 4 R’s of an effective consequence – but we also have to recognize that a consequence may not be the appropriate tool. There are over 20 tools in the Positive Parenting Solutions Tool Box and a consequence may not be the best choice for correcting the misbehavior.

This is such a huge topic and we cover this in great detail in Positive Parenting Solutions Online.

Thanks again for joining the webinar!

Is Time Out a good discipline technique?

Parents are often quick to use “Time Out” as a discipline tool because it is a widely used practice.  Physicians, teachers, and other parents frequently recommend “Time Out” as a way to correct common misbehaviors.  The problem with this thinking is, “Time Out” most often increases the intensity of the power struggle.

“Time Out” is not the same as removing the child from the situation.  For children under the age of 3, using one or more of the Remove and Redirect strategies are most helpful:

· Remove the object

· Remove the child from the environment  (This is not “Time Out”)

· Redirect the child’s attention

· Redirect the child’s activity

After the age of three (and even younger for some children), they understand that they are “independent beings” and using “Time Out” will only intensify the power struggle.  We cannot impose our will on another human being – even a child.  When we try to exercise power over a child, they will naturally fight back.  How can we possibly force a child to stay in “Time Out”?  Some children who are less “spirited” may do as they are told and remain in “Time Out” for the prescribed time – but what are they learning about their misbehavior? Are they sitting in “Time Out” thinking about their poor choice and about how they will do things differently next time?  Probably not!  Most likely they are “stewing” over how unfair it is that Mom or Dad sent them to “Time Out”!

How is “Time Out” related to most misbehaviors?  In most cases, it isn’t.

For consequences to be effective and to provide learning for future behaviors, they must meet the criteria of the 4 R’s.

You will learn about the 4 R’s as well as many other tools to address misbehaviors by enrolling in Positive Parenting Solutions Online.