Time-out or no time-out? It’s a question parents often contemplate when trying to get their child to calm down. A recent study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics looks at whether taking a time-out has any negative long-term effects on our children.
“This study was looking at time-outs over several years, and found there were no long-term effects for kids that were put in ‘time-out’ versus those kids that weren’t, and they looked at emotional and behavioral functioning,” said Dr. Emily Mudd, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study.
The study looked at data from a national study of more than 1,000 children.
The results showed no association between use of time-outs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, aggression or self-control.
Mudd says if parents use a time-out appropriately — to help a child self-regulate, and not as a punishment — they can be effective.
She said if a child is acting out, or having a tantrum, they need guidance to help them regulate their emotions, as very small children don’t yet have the skills to do so on their own.
Mudd recommends trying to name the feeling first.
Say things like, “I can see that you’re very angry right now,” which may help the child begin to manage their emotions, and a time-out may not be necessary.
But, she cautions that not all kids are the same, and just because a time-out works for one child does not mean it will work for another.
If parents do choose to use a time-out, Mudd says it’s best to keep it short.
“If you are going to use time-outs and it’s something that works for your family, a good rule of thumb is to do one minute per year of age, starting, not much younger than age 1 — 18 months would really be the youngest age we would recommend,” she says. “So, a 2-year-old would get two minutes of time-out, and at that age, it’s just really teaching them how to regulate their bodies.”
Mudd reminds parents that children receive a lot of negative feedback throughout the day, whether it’s “don’t do this” or “stop doing that.” So, if time-outs are used, make sure a child is also praised when they’re behaving appropriately.
— Source: Cleveland Clinic