There is much controversy over the issue of “time out”. Is it helpful or hurtful in raising children? Let’s dig in and see if we can unpack both sides:
Years ago, everybody did time out… some of us remember the “time out chair” or corner where we stuck our noses as kids
Now we see a lot of people who are moving away from that concept. They see it as a damaging act that hinders a child’s intellect and emotions. Some claim that it is damaging, shaming, disconnecting, and not effective.
So… should we do “time out” with our kids?
I want to dig into this and talk about both sides.
After all, we want to uncomplicate family life. I hope that through this, you will some tools in your nurturing tool box.
What's in this post...
Looking At the Perspectives
There are two sides to this discussion. So, let’s take some time to view each perspective. I want to take a look – specifically – at the motives behind both sides.
I feel as though unpacking this motive or lens that they see time out through will better help us come to our own conclusions.
First of all, I do feel like both sides are done out of love. Which is super important.
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Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
The side against time out views it as…
This side feels as though when you do time out, you make your kids feel alone, and isolated.
They go so far as to believe say that they are going to end up in jail and never make anything of themselves. They believe this is due to them never unpacking their issues and getting better from their infractions.
The side advocating time out says…
The other side argues that without time out kids become entitled and disrespectful. They claim that and when they become teenagers… parents are going to wish they could go back and do “time outs”.
What’s the motive behind these opinions?
Anytime we’re discussing opposing opinions, I like to try to look at the motive behind those opinions. In other words… why people do what they do?
So… let’s look take a look.
- Parents who disagree with time out value connection between parent and child. They want to, more than anything value and cherish their children’ opinions and motives.
- Parents to agree with time out may choose so because they value boundaries in their life and aim to help their children see those boundaries and be a rule follower. They want to make sure they are consistent and set them up for success.
I see both sides.
Taking a Look at Connotation
My opinion is that this discussion can be summed up as a “connotation situation“.
Thank about this: have you ever noticed that articles that speak against time out always ask this question: “How would you feel if you were out of control and someone sent you to your room?”
Well… I would feel amazing. Send me to my room!
For me, all the kids are making animal noises and I’m feeling out of control. What I need is just some peace and quiet… a quiet room is the perfect place to regroup and calm down.
I know that’s not a perfect example because I’m an adult, but…
I think that the term “time out” becomes a connotation situation.
A connotation situation is where someone automatically assumes certain values are given to a phrase. So, moms that are against time out jump right to the negatives of isolation, where as moms that are for it generally see it as a positive break.
People who are against time out say: We don’t have time out but… we have “time in” or they are going to sit in the chair by me. In reality… this is the same thing as time out.
No matter what it’s called, if you’re giving your child some quiet time to consider his/her actions… it’s time out. What constitutes a time out is that it’s a “break” of time.
Time out is…
- A break in the day to zoom out and stop the conflict.
- A stop in an action or conflict that allows a person to reflect and go on.
- It’s a time to be calm down and redirect.
I truly don’t see how this is damaging to a child. Especially if it’s done in a loving way where the parent gives appropriate space. I mean, sometimes as a mom we need some time to not act out in anger and really consider the situation ourselves.
Another missing piece of information from the no time out movement is how exactly is time out happening. And how is it supposed to be happening.
Because if we have a situation where a mom yells “go to your room for an hour so I don’t have to look at your face.” And when the kid comes out, everyone acts like it never happened. Obviosuly they aren’t getting down to the true matter of what really happened. The pattern is bound to repeat itself.
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The break may be effective, but it’s not preventing any future behavior from happening.
So, clearly any kind of time out… we’re going to have to circle back and talk about what happened.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
Time out, is it really damaging? I don’t have enough information about your particular family and how you do time outs.
I am wary of a condition that moms sometimes find themselves in. This condition is where they feel like anything they do will damage their kids... so they do nothing.
This is particularly true with mothers who’s core values are empathy, understanding, and love. They can be particularly susceptible to believing that anything they do to make their child upset is damaging to them.
So now when their child bites, kicks, steals, refuses to do chores… they don’t think they have any tools in their tool box to stop behaviors without damaging their kids.
- So when “Jimmy” bites “Jimbo” over something to do with LEGOS… now all they can do it talk about “Jimmy’s” feelings. This feels very disempowering for moms.
- Sometimes it does help to talk about feelings, but it probably won’t prevent this from happening again.
We need to have some tools in our toolbox to be able to pull out. Maybe the day is getting away from you and the kids are starting to act a little crazy. Is it time for some space. However that looks for you.
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I can’t tell you exactly how to do this because I don’t live in your house. But we have to be careful that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
There’s always things that we’re going to look back on and say “that didn’t work”. But how has it really been done? Maybe research says things should change. I think we’ve moved past “go to your room and stay there all night”.
I think it’s important that in every family that we have boundaries and that kids learn how to adapt to boundaries. Why? Because we have to do this all of our lives.
And if your a mom who is already…
- setting your kids up for success,
- teaching life skills and survival,
- letting them be uncomfortable, and
- allowing a soft place for them to land at home.
I’m struggling to see how making them sit by themselves for a few minutes to calm down after they’ve been screaming at their sibling is going to be damaging.
We Can’t Outsmart Our Common Sense
I hope that this encourages those of you who’s opinion falls somewhere in the middle.
Or If you’re the mom who is struggling to do something about behaviors. If you’re this mom and can’t find a way to take some space for the both of you, you’re going to begin to feel powerless and out of control.
Furthermore, you’re going to be triggered in many things throughout the day.
You may feel like it’s your responsibility to determine how your kids behave but you have no control over how they behave. This is a hard place to be.
It’s a place that I like for us not to get.
So… is time out damaging? I guess it depends on your home and how you go about it.
I hope this has helped you think through both sides.
Don’t over complicate family life. We’re going to love our kids and teach them to follow the healthy boundaries that we have created for their good.
We’re not going to take every little thing they do so seriously. Lastly, we’re not going to make every mistake into a catastrophe that surely will land them in jail someday. No….
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It’s just not this complicated. We don’t have to second guess ourselves. Trust you instincts when it comes to your boundaries and allowing quiet space for you both.
You’ve got this, momma.