A recent Yahoo! Parenting article made me take a moment to think about the ways in which we discipline our son. We’ve all been there at some point: massive meltdowns, stubbornness, insolence, and lots of no, no, NOs. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get a full-out tantrum, replete with histrionics, dramatic falls to the floor, and lots of flailing arms and legs. Welcome to toddlerhood, my friends.
My son began asserting himself, and his independence, somewhere around eighteen months old and I was at a loss with how to effectively handle his outbursts. I was spanked as a child, and have no ill feelings towards it, so I tried spanking. Nothing. Well, not nothing, my son would typically laugh at me. That’s right, you heard me, my son would laugh at me when I spanked him for misbehaving. If I ‘threatened’ him with a spanking he would tell me that he wanted a spanking. I’m not talking about a hormonal teenager here, I’m talking about a two-year-old with an attitude.
The realization that spanking would not work for us, paired with a desire to embrace compassionate and effective parenting strategies, led us to begin using time-outs with our two year old son. For the most part, time-outs work for us, and range from anything from him having a time-out from his favorite toy, removal from whatever activity he’s engaging in, turning off a favorite cartoon, or physically sitting him in a chair and talking about the situation for two minutes (we follow the method of matching the timeout length in minutes to the child’s age).
Time-outs have worked for us because they provide a break from the situation, or the loss of a privilege, in order to address appropriate behavior and expectations. Much like spanking, timeouts should not be used as punishment out of parental anger, but rather as a means of taking time away from a chaotic situation to regroup, reiterate and discuss behavioral expectations.
According to this Yahoo! Parenting article, Time-Out vs. Alternative Discipline, we’re doing it all wrong. One expert maintains that time-outs are emotionally harmful to children, while the other advocates for time-outs…as long as they are administered in a loving way to a child over the age of four. If I were to listen to the experts, either way, we’re damaging our son by using time-outs for punishment.
At the end of the day, parents are their children’s experts; they know their child’s personality and are able to gauge whether different forms of behavioral reinforcements and/ or consequences have the desired effect. For us, this means taking a time-out or leaving an activity when our son isn’t following instructions, removing a favorite toy when he isn’t listening, or even sitting in a chair to discuss what’s going on when a tantrum erupts. As parents, we all seek to teach our children behaviors, right from wrong, but I think that all children respond differently to various forms of discipline; what works for one may not work for another.
What are your thoughts on time-outs; do you use them, do they work for you? Weigh in, in the comments below:
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.