Time-Outs Are Just Plain Stupid

Every time I hear a parent telling their child, "you're going to be in (gasp!) TIME OUT!", I cringe.

What an incredibly stupid idea.

I mean, just consider what exactly a time-out does.

I think some parents have this blissful idea that children will think on their transgressions and realize quite how wrong their actions were.


For most kids, a time-out means they can use their fiendishly clever mind to think of exciting scenarios and action ideas to consider…once they're freed from their "thinking spot."

Like *that's* a huge punishment. 

Uh huh!

Errr…Mamabear doesn't think so.  Whatsoever.

Instead, Mamabear recognizes that consequences have to compel positive responses.

Giving kids the opportunity to "think" without any concrete results…is a big huge flapping waste of time.

Instead, Mamabear has several much more effective ways to punish her children.  Here are 2 brief ideas.

Write down what *should* have been done instead

Sometimes kids act out because of frustration, anger, pity or the like.

Their feelings are extremely valid…but they have to learn that in today's society, that behavior will get them stomped on by people who are either stronger or in a position of power.

So, Mamabear has her kid write down:

  • What happened to lead up to the action
  • What happened during the action
  • What happened after the action

and then

  • What could have been done differently to get the point across

It's astonishing how much thought kids will put into, "Gee, I could have done *this* different or *that* different etc."

This is an academic consequences – the child ges to improve his or her writing skills and also learns how to put down thoughts on paper.  It's a very valuable skill later on in life!

52 card pickup

Sometimes, though, a consequence has be hugely painful to make an impression.

Back when Mamabear was growing up, there was nothing wrong with spankings.  It makes sense, actually – piss someone off enough and suffer the consequences from another person stronger than you.

It happens in the school yard, it happens in college, it happens in the workplace.

Hell, it's just plain *life*.

But if you dislike the idea of spankings, you can institute 52 Card Pickup…in which you drop an entire deck of cards on the floor and have the kid pick them up.

17 times.

Or, you simply continue until the point has been made.

Make sure you explain what's going on. 

"You chose to hit your brother because you were angry.  Great!  Wonderful!  So I'm now choosing to make you do something really annoying because *I'm* angry.  Doesn't feel so good, does it?"

Always remember to make the kid repeat back why it's happening – this way you *know* the lesson is being heard.

Received well, perhaps not!  But that will simply take time in the future.

In closing, MamaBear simply *knows* that punishment is futile unless the lesson is learned.  Time-outs don't showcase learning; writing does.  Talking does.  Making restitution….does.

So you do it too.

Parent well,


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