How Many Time-Outs Does It Take for Better Behavior

How Many Time-Outs Does It Take?
I have been asked by many a parent, "How many time-outs will it take before I start seeing better beahvior?"  And my answer, of course, is NONE!  Time-out does nothing to change behavior in any appreciable way.  It provides adults with the illusion that it works.  Results are fleeting, causing adults to rely on it again and again, with minimal gains for their sanity, or for improved behavior for their child. You will not get a lasting behavior change through time-out. It's just not going to happen!
Your Child Needs Connection Not Isolation
After all, the human brain is wired for connection.  We seek out relationships with others.  We need relationships with others.  Our relationships with others are crucial to our survival.  So, it's natural that a child would want to avoid the isolation of time out.  We are misled as adults and may even think to ourselves, "Oh, yeah!  That taught him.  It worked like a charm. He stopped that whining/hitting/carrying on right away when I put him in time-out!"
The Time-Out Merry-Go-Round
We do this only to find that we get stuck on the time-out merry-go-round, putting our kids in time-out over and over again for the same infraction.  If time-out really worked, we'd only have to use it once for each type of misguided behavior.  But that simply isn't the case. This makes so much sense when you think about it!

What Does Work?

The only thing we know that works is social emotional skill building with a caring and patient parent or caregiver.  How do you do that, you ask?  It's really not rocket-science, but it does take a bit of a shift in our perspective and a little bit of learning how to do all of this a new way. 


For the past year, Dr. Lynne Kenney, Ava Parnass, MSN,  and I have worked tirelessly together to bring you a whole new way to parent, teach and care for young children. Our book, "Time-In Not Time-Out", will be released this fall.  Combined, we have over 75 years of clinical experience, and 44 years of parenting experience.  We have about done and seen it all.  If we haven't seen it in our practices, we've seen it in our own homes.  Sibling rivalry, intensity, challenging behaviors, intense temperaments, behavioral disorders, children with special needs...we've seen it and worked with it.  And we want to tell you that this revolutionary approach in our new book will help kids that fall into every category listed above. 

Stay tuned, because more will be revealed in the near future!

As always, we wish you Happy Parenting {and Teaching}!

This post is sponsored by Signing Families.
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naomi said…
I think this is an interesting post and have not seen it addressed before. I think parents do think that time outs are short term and behaviour changes so they wont have to use them.
Thanks for dropping by, Naomi!

I think most parents believe that time-out is the best approach, because we've been taught that and have thought it to be true for decades. All of the recent research on neurobiology and social emotional skill development show us otherwise.

Hopefully, the groundbreaking book by Dr. Kenney, Ava Parnass and myself will help parents transition into this more effective style of parenting. We've seen it work not only with our own kids, but with THOUSANDS of families with whom we have worked!

~Wendy =)
Anonymous said…
Thank you for this timely article. For years I have advocated against time out. I teach a lot of workshops to childcare staff and church volunteers. Childcare staff really need other options besides this awful isolation we try to put on kids. Plus many times the staff is the one that is punished by the child not adhering to the time out. The entire focus becomes on making the child stay in time out. The reason is quickly lost.

Again thanks. Look forward to hearing more about your book.

Linda Ranson Jacobs
Thanks, Linda! I appreciate your insights and it is great to hear about the trainings you are doing! Change is on the horizon! Yay for kids! Yay for us!


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