Monday, March 8, 2010

The Case Against Time Out

The Case Against Time-Out

So my review on this article? I think punishment is focusing on the wrong thing. Time out, spanking, really any consequence AFTER the fact isn't teaching- young children can't learn when they are upset or focused on what you're not allowing. In order to truly teach you have to stop the behavior before it happens.
Example: RJ likes to throw toys, when I see she's about to throw a toy that could hurt the toy or some one else I quickly grab her and whisk the toy away and put it up out of reach. I remind her "No throwing your toys RJ... The toy could get broken or you could hurt somebody." I do this every time I catch her before she's about to throw it. If she does throw the toy before I can get to her I pick it up and remind her and I put the toy out of reach for a while (she obviously can't handle playing with that toy right now if she's not taking care of it). It's not a quick fix, but I can't count how many things she's learned this way.

Now there is another layer- WHY is she throwing the toy? A few things I ask myself.

is she Hungry/Thirsty? Angry? Lonely?Tired? and I would add -in pain from teething? It's so much easier to react appropriately to a misbehavior if you look at what's going on underneath and address that NEED first. Instead of flying off the handle and putting my screaming driving-me-insane two year old in time-out (or spanking her) because she won't stop some annoying behavior or another. When were all calmed down THEN I can address the behavior.

I know this article is talking about constant time-outs- that they can be harmful, I agree. But I DO think a time out isn't "evil" if the PARENT needs a break. Several times I've taken RJ sat her on a chair and walked to the other side of the house so that I could calm down... Some times I've set her on the chair (and she stays there because she can tell I'm losing it ugh.) and had a hissy fit right in front of her -stomping my feet and waving my arms and running in place trying to deal so that I don't hurt somebody. Then I use my words. "I'm so frustrated and angry right now because I'm trying to do _______ and I can't because ________ keeps happening. How can I fix this?"
I'm still learning to do this- some times I fail miserably and just clam up and leave my fussing toddler sitting there while I do what I wanted to do- she's not learning any thing good from me in these situations- but thankfully we're both young and have lots of time to grown together.

My point is, it's not about her feeling bad for some thing she's done- who really learns the right lesson when they feel bad about some thing? They learn how to hide what's going on so they don't' have to feel bad next time. It's about pointing out what's going on and coming up with a plan to make it better TOGETHER. Some times that means making amends for to her sister for hitting her in the face with a toy (yes well... a kiss or a "gwentle" touch). Some times it's picking up the crayons with Mommy after they got dumped and thrown from here to eternity- and only getting 2 or 3 crayons at a time for a while. Or wiping up the spilled water and not getting to practice drinking out of a cup for a while. It's about setting them up for success so they CAN learn appropriate behavior in a positive and encouraging way. Not a negative and reactive way.

I want to talk more about shaming in my next post...But I don't have time right now a certain little baby is acting ready for another nap and so is the toddler snuggling next to me. More later.

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