Why are time-outs ineffective?

Kim DeMarchi, MEd Parent Educator, shares advice for parents on why time-outs are an ineffective disciplinary tool, and suggests techniques that work to discipline your child without punishing them
Why Time-Outs are Ineffective
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Why are time-outs ineffective?

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Timeouts are a discipline tool that many people use. Unfortunately, some of the time they become misused. It becomes another word for punishment. When our child is whining, we start yelling, "Stop your whining. Go to your room right now for a timeout. Don't come back until I tell you so." The message that we are now sending your child is: I don't like you. Go away from me. Get out of here. That's the message that they are hearing, just because they were whining. The child didn't need the timeout, the parent needs the timeout. The parent needs to step back, take a few deep breaths, figure out what's going on here? Why is my child whining? What are they trying to communicate to me? And deal with that. Sending a child to a timeout, they are not thinking about it, they have no idea what they've done, probably, and making them stay in there for a certain amount of time is unproductive. A child that is five should not have to stay for five minutes. They may be calm in one minute and be able to re-join the situation. That five year old may not be ready in five minutes when you say, "Come on out. It's been five minutes." Maybe they need ten minutes to get themselves into a calmer space. Self-quieting and self-calming is a much better way to think of it. What is your goal as a parent? Is your goal to punish them and make them feel bad about themselves? Or is your goal to teach them and to get them calm and learn self-control?

Kim DeMarchi, MEd Parent Educator, shares advice for parents on why time-outs are an ineffective disciplinary tool, and suggests techniques that work to discipline your child without punishing them

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Kim DeMarchi, MEd, CPE

Parent Educator

is an Oregon resident, in the United States, with 18 year old boy/girl twins in the Tigard Tualatin School District, and has been an educator for almost three decades. She began her career as an elementary school teacher for 12 years, then worked as an elementary school administrator for 6 years, and then decided to dedicate herself to teaching parenting classes and workshops exclusively. Kim is trained and certified through a program called Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, as well by the International Network for Children and Families, in a program called Redirecting Children‘s Behavior. She also has taken recent trainings in the areas of Youth Mental Health First Aid, Adult Mental Health First Aid, ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), Trauma Informed Care, Smart Voices/Smart Choices: Parents Talking with Kids about Mental Wellness and Substance Use, and Making the Connection: Stress, Teen Brains & Building Resilience. Kim is active in supporting her local parenting community by providing workshops, classes, coaching families and writing monthly articles for two local newspapers Tualatin Times and Tigard Times. Kim is a monthly guest on KATU's Afternoon Live and an occasional guest on KATU's AM Northwest television show doing parenting segments. Kim also reaches thousands internationally through her close to one hundred 30 minute parenting podcasts found on her website. Additionally, Kim recently made her fifth trip to Asia during the last few years to teach and share her passion in raising cooperative, respectful, resilient and responsible children. Kim’s goal for you is to help reduce conflict, foster mutual respect, and create deeper communication and connections with your loved ones.

You can reach Kim and her resources at her website:

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