Many parents and educators use time-out to manage children. Time-out is a tool to de-escalate a child’s behavior and restore calm.
My question is, “But, at what price?”
We may interrupt the upsets of children in terms of how it affects us and do not always consider the message it sends to them.
Let’s examine what time-out teaches a child.
When you are struggling to regulate your emotions, we abandon you. We withdraw our love and attention.
Think about your own behavior. When you struggle with life, what do you most need? Isn’t it someone who would hold you, sit with you, and endure your pain without pulling away? We appreciate the value of someone who lets you express yourself.
Children do not have the words to explain themselves. Their tension rarely resolves by being isolated. It then becomes more pronounced. Children who endured repeated time out’s may internalize these messages:
If I express my fear, I may be uncomfortable
If I express my anger, I am rejected.
I have no connection with you on which I can rely.
I cannot be too angry, rebellious, or vocal in my self-expression.
When a child comes to expect this isolation, it creates more upset. Let’s rethink this parenting tactic and stay present with our children when they need us the most.
I’d like to offer a few suggestions:
Give yourself time before responding.
Try to discover what is going on by problem-solving together.
Help your child name their emotion and empathize with them.
If children need to withdraw, let them. If we impose time-out, it just may do more harm than good.