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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Disciplining a Toddler: Timeouts?

I came across a Facebook post linked to an article on timeouts and if they were effective or "messing up kids."  The article made some great points (click the link above to read it in full).

I specifically agree with Edward Christophersen, a psychologist and pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and the author of Beyond Discipline: Parenting That Lasts a Lifetime.  

"Timeouts don’t work very well, if you haven’t created a richly positive environment for your child.  In other words, “it's the effort parents put into time-in that determines whether or not timeout works,” Christophersen says, so when parents and teachers categorically state that timeouts don’t work with their kids, it can be a warning sign of more serious problems in the home or school environment. If you rarely praise, hug, or interact positively with little Sammy, then acting up may be the only way he can get your attention, and for a kid, negative attention (such as when parents get mad) is better than no attention. 

Agree 100%.

As a parent, we feel we have effectively incorporated timeouts for our almost-two-year-old son, Elijah.  However, we also VERY often praise, hug and kiss, and positively interact with him.  He does not feel 'punished' or 'abandoned' when we do give him timeouts.  What I have noticed is how INEFFECTIVE spanking is for our son.  While I know some parents are adamantly opposed to spanking, and others are for it, I would be lying if I said we never lightly spanked Elijah's bottom or hand, although it rarely happens.  I was not exactly for "spanking" but also grew up in a time where corporal punishment was normal (especially in my ethno-traditional Indian upbringing).  That being said, I remember how much I HATED my parents for spanking me and told myself I didn't want to parent this way.  I did not want my son to hate me because of the forms of punishment he received.  I realize that some of the techniques used on me did have negative consequences (i.e.: feeling hatred toward the two people I should never feel hatred towards, my parents).  Of course, that time passed and I feel nothing but love and admiration for my parents now that I am an adult and a parent myself.  Nevertheless, I still remember that "feeling" stemmed from the corporal punishment I received. 

Thankfully, I received a lot of training on early childhood education and parenting through the agency I was previously employed with.  I feel I truly learned the benefits of "nurturing parenting" principles stemmed around positive interaction, speaking to Elijah like an adult, getting down to his level to speak to him (especially when a more authoritative voice is needed) and always loving and praising him.  This approach has worked WONDERS for us.  We do not feel like we are dealing with "the terrible two's" we hear so often about.  Our son is actually far from "terrible" although he is just about two years old.

I strongly believe that the nurturing parenting techniques, as well as effective and age appropriate timeouts, work wonders.  Elijah HATES time out (which for us is removing him from his current surrounding to a quiet corner in the house).  We do not put him there and just "abandon" him.  We get down to his level, explain calmly what he did and why he is there and give him a specified time limit.  He usually throws a fit for a few seconds, but I have noticed if I speak to him like an adult, he gets it more than if I were to be frustrated and yell at him.  In the end, he does not like the idea of timeout, so often he knows what he should not do to end up in timeout.  In his head, I see him thinking, "I shouldn't do that, or I'll be in timeout."  Which to me, speaks volumes in that he is getting the concept and understanding the cause and effect around his behavior resulting in a positive learning experience for him.

In the end, I am ALL for nurturing parenting and effective, age appropriate time outs.  Children need discipline and structure, but they also need love, praise and nurturing.

What techniques do you use when applying discipline to your child?  Has it been effective?

I strongly urge parents to look into the "nurturing parenting" techniques and would be happy to elaborate more about what I learned in regards to these principles.


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