What Does Time Out Communicate?

So your child has done something which you deem as inappropriate, you don’t want to hit them because you’re aware of the harm in doing so (yay) but you’re thinking instead maybe a time out because you want your child to learn what they’ve done is really, really, very not okay. You’re angry.

If nothing else has persuaded you to reconsider, I hope that this perspective might…

There are a lot of reasons to criticise the validity of “time-outs” as a method of behaviour modification (and the whole idea of behaviour modification in the first place) but perhaps one often overlooked is this; why would a parent want to suggest in any way that a child’s own company is unappealing, so unappealing in fact that it is worthy of punishing a person!

Is this really how we want children to feel about being with themselves?

There is much that has been said about the destructive and manipulative nature of withdrawing your love and care but even if we leave that aside, if that hasn’t quite manged to convince you; don’t we want our children to see their own company positively?

And how much more difficult must that be when your parent, the person with perhaps the strongest motivations to love you, is saying; this is meant to make you feel bad, bad enough that you will want to avoid this feeling in the future. Yuck.

Not only does this inspire a child to reflect about the effects of their actions on themselves (arbitrarily and externally inflicted at that) rather than how they fit into the tapestry of a community but it has a huge risk of diminishing a person’s sense of self worth; if my parent feels this way about my company, shouldn’t I?

“Time-outs” being effective indicates how much a child’s self worth has already been eroded.

Whilst I believe that no punishment is necessary or valid, can we at least start here; your own company should not be a punishment.

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