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Why Timeouts Fail and What to Do Instead


I really like this article written by Janet Lansbury. Timeouts are proving to not be an effective consequence or punishment when  disciplining a child. Especially in the long run. Believe you me, it is way better than in the days of hitting and spanking though! However, we are finding that timeout builds resentment, rejection, shame, and withdrawal in our children. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do when our child is behaving poorly, however, wanting to ‘make it go away’ certainly is not helping. Here are some of Janet’s tips in regards to this:

Why Timeouts Fail and What to do Instead

Timeout is a temporary, artificial, and inadequate solution to a real problem. Worse, it actually prevents us from seeing the real problem, because when kids feel judged and rejected, they tend to clam up (as we all do). Timeout closes the door on communication in the misguided hope that children will think about their behavior and, shamed, resolve to do better in the future.  The problem with this logic is that it assumes children are thinking reasonably when they are breaking the rules. The truth is that they’re usually acting on impulses that don’t make sense to them either. So, in effect, we’re expecting them to reason out the unreasonable while dealing with equal doses of shame and guilt, then miraculously come to their senses and henceforth conduct themselves with a more mature level of self-control.

This is a fantasy. It’s just not going to happen.

In truth, timeout is the exact opposite of what our children need when their behavior hits the skids. Defiance, aggression and other limit pushing behavior are our children’s way of letting us know their impulses have taken hold. Self-control has left the building, and they need to be able to depend on ours as back-up. This can only happen when we’re tuned in, not turning them away in anger or judgment.

With this crucial shift in perspective as a starting off point, and a clear understanding of our role, we successfully handle challenging behavior by following these steps:

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I have been a professional nanny working with children of all ages for over 15 years. My work has taken me all over the globe and I have had many amazing adventures with the families that I have worked with, all of which has taught me a great deal about how to make parenting less stressful.

I helped create Mothers Lifestyle in order to share parenting tips and secrets that I learned along the way, as well as to provide life-saving tools and advice from the world’s leading experts that I rely on every day in my professional life.