As a society, we have learned so much about child development, psychology, and how we raise children. While some things were once accepted because we didn’t know any better, now we know that many of the acceptable parenting habits just 10, 15, or even 20 years ago are no longer acceptable.
For example, spanking used to be a commonplace practice among parents, and if you didn’t spank your child, it was thought that you were spoiling them. Now, various studies have been coming out and even the American Pediatric Association advises against spanking. Not only because it’s ineffective, but also because it has been linked to aggression, violence, addiction, depression and so much more. In turn, many parents have turned to other, more gentle forms of discipline. One of those is timeout.
However, timeout isn’t as ‘safe’ as you think it is. It’s downright damaging. If you don’t believe me, check out these 5 reasons, and I assure you I am going to make a good case for why you should opt for a better form of discipline.
1. Your child will feel abandoned.
Smaller children, especially, do not realize that when you place them in an area by themselves and tell them not to speak, cry, or whatever the case may be, for however long, you will be coming back. In their mind, they have done wrong and now, you are abandoning them. This can be especially traumatic to the developing brain.
2. Your child will feel as though your love is conditional.
When you withhold love, affection, and even communication with your child because they acted in a way that displeased you, they will grow to believe you only love them if they do exactly as you wish. In turn, they will grow to believe they either have to fit into a mold (despite their emotional state, which is what they are trying to communicate to you through misbehaving) or they will be turned away and abandoned.
3. It can be triggering for other mental health issues (like anxiety, Autism spectrum disorder, and other common mental illnesses that are prevalent in younger children.
If your child is already experiencing anxiety or another mental health condition, timeout is especially difficult for them. Being placed in an area alone and being told not to talk or communicate will only make them more anxious.
4. It’s a form of emotional neglect.
When a child misbehaves, they are trying to tell you something. Linda Hatfield, author of Parenting From the Heart, says there is no such thing as misbehaving. All actions from a child are behaviors that are age appropriate or appropriate based on their development and how they are feeling. “All behavior is communication.” And when your child is trying to communicate something to you, and you punish them, you are emotionally neglecting them.
5. It doesn’t teach them anything, other than to do as they are told, which is not the greatest message to send.
Discipline is often misconstrued to mean punishment. When in reality, a more correct definition would be to teach. It’s our job to teach our children how to behave in society, how to handle their emotions, and how to carry themselves through life, morally. Beating them, or time outing them into submission, isn’t instilling any values in your child. Instead, the message you send is, “Do not try to communicate how you feel, or really, don’t feel anything that I don’t want you to feel unless I say it’s okay. If I don’t, you will be punished.”