Parent is about guiding and teaching and less about discipline.

No More Naughty Step or Time Outs

According to a recent study featured in Time Magazine, brain scans show that relational pain –that caused by isolation during punishment can look the same as physical abuse. So is alone in the corner the best place for your children?

Every time I work with parents I ask them to imagine they are 3 or 5 years of age and Mum is cross with them. ‘That’ll be 2 minutes on the step! I am telling you, it’s going to be 3 minutes on the step now’ (as we start to feel vengeful) and we get increasingly worked up. Now, close your eyes and imagine how you would feel; dragged out to the step by an irate parent. Responses I get are invariably: ‘Scared, rejected, unloved, confused, angry, resentful, small’.Why did we ever think this worked?

What is discipline?

Discipline is about teaching, not about punishment and finding ways to teach children to behave appropriately. Punishment is counterproductive to that. I asked my now teenager how she found me when she was small and I was shocked at her reply ‘I found you threatening’. I never meant for her to feel that way, but when you are small and your parent loses it or shouts, life can become threatening. She went on to say that she has noticed how I deal with the baby in the family and she said ‘when she is off form; you sit with her and you listen to her and your approach is gentle and soothing’.

The Right Kind of Discipline

Every parent does their best, with where they are at in themselves, with what they got when they were small, but learning about what children need changed my parenting for the better. I regret that I did not always do the Kind, firm but not Cross parenting – but I do it now and I have learnt from my mistakes.

See What Your Child Needs

‘I see you are upset. Let’s take a moment to calm down, and when you are calm, I can talk to you’.

Otherwise, time outs teach them that when they make a mistake or are having a hard time, they will be forced to be by themselves, which they experience as rejection. Misbehaviour is a cry for help, and a bid for connection, or for the parent to soothe and comfort.

Time Outs

Time outs frequently leave children angrier and more deregulated, leaving them less able to control themselves or think about what they have done and more focused on how mean their parents are, so relationship suffers. So, next time consider a ‘time in’ forge a loving connection, sit with them and comfort them. Teach them to regulate their ‘big feelings’ through a PAUSE, taking a few deep breaths and slowing down and let it go..