Time-out: a mental spank

Being a mom is one of the toughest jobs. Am sure many will agree with me on this; even more when the child is quite demanding. Kids push our buttons quite often and nevertheless to say this COVID has been testing our limits in many ways .Time-outs have been popular among many parents to calm down a child with unruly behavior; but is it in their best interest?

What does research say?

I had surfed through many sites to find the stats behind parents supporting time-outs. Interestingly, it’s a mixed bag; a percentage of parents feel that time-outs have really worked on their children to calm down while for a portion of kids it has been a behavioral concern as they grow older. In recent times, most of the parents impose time-ins instead of time-outs wherein kids can sit quietly with their parents until they calm down. Research also says that parents sometime give time-outs to kids when they need time off for themselves. Such instances cause greater impacts on children; it creates a mental stigma on their relationship. If the intention is not punitive and just used for calming down it is considered safe. Kids need a more inclusive environment and parents being around them in times of distress helps them in a positive way.

My 2 cents

When my kids were newborn, I would always wonder how would the baby feel about lying on its back all the time; would it be really stressed out about this? Being such an anxious mom, I have never been an advocate of time-outs. It concerns me when a child is left to deal with him/herself during timeouts. It is tough even for an adult to deal with their distress in isolation, then how would a child calm down when left alone.


When a child listens to us to go for a time-out, it means that the child is still capable of listening to us; there is still a hold with the parent, so why don’t we try other methods? Children who have been put on time-outs in their childhood acquire a mindset that pain/agony needs to be handled in solitude; this attitude makes them lose empathy for others. Sometimes it starts reflecting in their married life too; when their spouse is in mental anguish, they are expected to deal with it all alone. Though it cannot be justified that it happens to all Kids facing time-outs; it becomes a developmental concern for some.

So, what can be done?

A warm hug is a wonderful option, but it is understandable that it is not practical all the time. Time-ins are a good alternative where a parent can be beside the kid just to ensure we are here to help them if they need. Any good behavior needs to be promptly appreciated. Once their time-in is over, expectation needs to be set about completing the tasks left behind.

Methods that have worked with my kids is giving them a verbal warning and letting them know they would lose their privileges if the behavior is continued. We make sure that only one of us act as a disciplinarian at a given point of time, so the kids could get the help of the other if they need. This does not mean that we take sides; it is just an assurance from our side that we are here to hear them. We also make sure a conversation happens between us and the kids when they calm down. It also helps to talk to the Kids before they go to sleep, letting them know how their behavior had hurt mom and dad; it  would be the right time to apologize if we had been a bit punitive that day.

I totally understand that each kid is different and not a common strategy works with all of them; but the only point am trying to make here is let us be more empathetic and decide what works best on our Kids.

Please share how do you handle your Kids, will be happy to read them.


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