Are Time-Outs Bad?
Let's bring a little nuance to the controversy.
If you spend any time on parenting social media, you probably know that time-outs have become contentious. Some experts still argue that they’re safe and effective, while others now warn that they are emotionally harmful and damage the parent-child relationship. Time-outs have become yet another parenting issue mired in shame and worry; parents have sometimes asked me, in full panic mode, if time-outs have screwed up their kids.
Today I’m going to unpack my thoughts on time-outs and dig into some of the research. In a nutshell, no: I do not believe that time-outs will screw up your kids, but I do believe that some ways of implementing time-outs are more constructive than others. The devil, as is so often true, is in the details.
As you probably already know, when it comes to parenting tools and strategies, I’m not a big fan of absolutist claims. This is especially true when considering broad umbrella terms like “time-out.” If you ask three parents to describe how to do a time-out, you will likely get three different answers — so to decide that a time-out is categorically “bad” when it can be done in many different ways is… well, kind of ridiculous. It’s like concluding that all exercise is bad because some people decide to run marathons without training and get injured. Or saying that all discipline is bad because some parents hit their kids.
Before I go on, I want to be perfectly clear
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