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Many parents utilize “time out” as a disciplinary procedure in their home.  Often I in my practice I see parents, exhausted and at the end of their rope claiming they have disciplined their child and they are getting “no where” or the child engages in the behavior more, or “doesn’t seem to care.”

The problem with time out is that it does not work for every child.  An oppositional child, or a child that is engaging in a behavior for negative attention is not going to care about time out.  Time out actually provides your child with attention.  You are usually raising your voice, carrying them to a location, and talking to them.  These actions provide your negative attention seeking child with the exact reinforcement they want, negative attention.

This is not to say “time out” can not work, it has helped many families, and provides adults with a helpful disciplinary action, however, with the challenging, more strong-willed child, it is not the best choice.

Instead walk away, or try saying “you are not acting appropriately, I am leaving until you can use kind words (or keep hands to self, stop yelling etc.)” When your child stops engaging in the behavior, then you can pay attention to them, talk with them or discuss why you are upset. This changes the environment in that you provide your child with attention, when they are calm and engaging in a behavior you want to see more of, versus engaging them when they are acting up with a negative behavior.

The concept of ignoring can be a difficult one, as parents feel the need to yell and discipline their children when they aren’t doing the right thing.  But stop and ask yourself, “Is this working for me?” If your answer is no, you have to change your behavior to see a result in your child’s behavior.  If you are having an “adult tantrum” by yelling and screaming at them, they are going to have the same reaction to you, yell and scream.

Let me know how you’re doing. Contact me for a family consultation.

Katie Gately
Behaved Brain Wellness Center
Healthier Kids – Happier Parents