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Attachment Parenting

Positive Child Discipline

Time-out sucks…away your child’s emotional security

One of the most commonly used parenting techniques in current day used throughout schools, homes, and day cares is “time-out”. “Timeout” is based primarily on a way of thinking that implies children act out for attention. Therefore, if a child is acting out ‘for’ attention, you don’t want to reward the child but rather give the child ‘time-out’ to think about their negative behaviors, thereby making better decisions next time. Considering that educators and professionals are still teaching and writing about this technique as though it were a ‘new’ alternative behavior discipline method, let’s ask the question: What makes “time-out” any different than standing with your nose in the corner, sitting on the dunce chair, being sent to your room, or having to sit in the naughty chair? Can someone please tell me the difference?

Bishop T.D. Jakes says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always be where you’ve already been!” If the dunce chair or standing with your nose in the corner didn’t work when we were children, then why do we think by dressing it up as something seemingly more contemporary, that it is going to work now? Many of you may be saying, “But it does work. All I have to do is start counting to three and my child stops their behavior to avoid time out,” or maybe you’re saying, “If it’s good enough for Super Nanny, it’s good enough for me.” Have you seen the new King Kong flick? Well, to a two-year old, an adult looks something like Kong did to the blonde, an utter giant. Wouldn’t you sit in a chair for two or three minutes if King Kong told you to do so? Wouldn’t you stop your behavior if you knew that if you continued, you would lose the loving support of your most secure attachment figure? Help me understand how it makes sense to send a child whose behavior is clearly communicating that they are unable to manage their current emotional state, to go sit by themselves to sort through their upset emotions, alone “Time-out” does not recognize the developmental and regulatory struggles a child is demonstrating in the midst of their behavior of acting out. Consider for a moment that rather than a child acting out ‘for’ attention, he is in fact, acting out because he ‘needs’ attention. Read that sentence again. It can make all of the difference. Instead of sending the child off to sit in a chair or be isolated, bring the child into you for a period of time. Have him sit next to you, hold your hand, stand beside you. Say to the child, “When you are feeling better you may go back and play.” In other words, allow the child to determine how much time-in that he needs. Important point: It is not imperative that you touch the child during this time. A child that does not want to be touched, or reacts violently, should not be touched. In that moment, the child is in survival mode and feels very threatened. Keep your distance, but indicate to the child that you are nearby and will stay so, until the child feels safer.

“Time-in” can be a very effective alternative to “time-out”. “Time-in” teaches compassion, regulation, the ability to create internal calm in the midst of stress, and understanding. Before providing “Time-In” for your child, give some to yourself. Take a moment, find a quiet corner, take four deep breaths, and find your calm, peaceful self. Now you are ready to help calm your child.

Author: B. Bryan Post, PhD, LCSW
Copyright© 2006 Dr. Bryan Post. All rights reserved. About the author: To learn more about “time-in” and calming your child when in a state of stress, visit and . B. Bryan Post PhD, LCSW, is an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of children and families struggling with issues related to trauma.

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About the author

Natural Parenting – who has written posts on A Much Better Way.


14 Responses to “Positive Child Discipline”

  1. You are absolutely right about time-out. It doesn’t work. I didn’t use while raising two sons and I don’t think anyone should. Discipline comes in many forms, but this particular form is worthless to all but a very few.

    Posted by RT Cunningham | October 4, 2008, 12:09 am
  2. I tend to feel like time in is a great thing, but I feel like it should happen BEFORE the child needs it. While your child is feeling good and behaving, take time to notice and snuggle, play a game, or whatever.

    Posted by Shara | February 7, 2010, 10:54 am
  3. The post is written in very a good manner and it entails many useful information for me. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post.
    Thank you for the post

    Posted by prashantsnv | August 6, 2010, 2:36 am
  4. I have to say that discipline is a very difficult area to address – I am not sure that there is just one amswer. The one thing I have learnt is that you can reduce the opportunities to for bad behaviour. The best way to do this is to make sure they just do not get bored. I find that a great way to avoid boredom is play family games together if you have some good ones to hand then you do not need to watch TV but can have fun playing some great games. I highly recommend Blokusgreat fun for all and develops spatial awareness.

    Posted by Educational | September 3, 2010, 7:19 am
  5. Its a very interesting point. I have often wondered why “time outs” are different from “standing on a chair”. (As we used to have to do when we were at school). I think we should change the emphasis to reward good behaviour rather than relying on punishments for young children.

    Posted by Helen | October 19, 2010, 6:05 am
  6. Can somebody help me by giving me more information related to this post? Thank you very much.

    Posted by Sean | December 5, 2010, 3:54 pm
  7. nice sharing article… thanks for the post

    Posted by john albert | December 9, 2010, 4:32 am
  8. Great content, whas useful!

    Posted by 2d old games | December 24, 2010, 1:56 pm
  9. I want to thank you for the efforts you’ve got made in penning this article. I’m hoping the identical greatest work from you sooner or later as well. In actual fact your artistic writing skills has inspired me to start out my own BlogEngine weblog now. Actually the running a blog is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a effective instance of it.

    Posted by Son Lovstad | May 20, 2011, 2:39 pm
  10. I’m not a mother yet, but I guess I think differently of how I was raised, I guess it’s always better to use a positive reinforcement than a negative one.

    I hope that helps the the child to be more aware of his options an emotions later on. What do you think?

    Posted by Catalina Korder | August 10, 2011, 2:25 pm
  11. Αs parents we should help children and to accomplish that we must be the best role model for them. All around the world exist so many negatives and bad examples outside the world that our children can follow that would be a shame to strengthen even within our home.

    Posted by giantonis | August 12, 2011, 4:25 am
  12. Good article. Children acting out because they need attention is a very valid point. Nourishment rather than punishment is the best way to develop healthy relationships between parent and child.

    Posted by Steve | August 31, 2011, 1:40 pm
  13. If the method you have in disciplining your kids is not that effective then it is time to have an alternative help from institutions such as military schools which are much known for their capability to discipline their students.

    Posted by ed | November 14, 2011, 3:49 am


  1. […] The best part? You can do this without losing your focus on building positive child discipline… […]

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