Do "time-outs" really work?

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist & Author, shares advice for parents on whether or not time-outs are an effective form of discipline and the one factor that all proper discipline must involve
Do Time-Outs Really Work? - Parenting Tips
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Do "time-outs" really work?

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Time outs are not something I'm a big fan of. They don't tend to be effective. And here's why. time outs are supposed to be a moment when you stop the behavior and you ask them to reflect on what's happening. What 2-3-4-5 year old sits and reflects on their own behavior in time out? None that I know. They actually reflect on how mean you are for putting them there. So it really is perceived as a punishment for them, even if you mean it for it to be a time of quiet. Additionally, I'd rather my child do something more active or proactive and practice doing things the right way. So instead of saying, you have a time out because you were too rough with petting the dog, I might say instead, come over and let's pet the dog gently together. So show them and give them practice doing things the right way. Additionally, time outs often result because the child is having a hard time. They're kind of falling apart. They're not able to make good choices in the moment. And usually this is when the child most needs connection from us. So just like when they were little infants and they were needing us to comfort them and kind of regulate their nervous systems and calm them down, in moments when they're out of control and not acting in the ways that they know they're supposed to, this is often a time they need to connect with us and have comfort from us as opposed to us putting them in time out and isolating them. When I ask myself the question, what is the lesson I want my child to learn when I'm disciplining them? You know discipline is all about teaching. So when I ask, what is the lesson I want them to learn, and what's the most effective way to teach it? Time out never seems to be the answer to me. I just think there are much more effective ways to discipline our children that allow us to connect with them and give them practice doing things the right way.

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD Psychotherapist & Author, shares advice for parents on whether or not time-outs are an effective form of discipline and the one factor that all proper discipline must involve

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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