Imagine this: You’ve had a tough day at work, your boss has been unreasonable, your colleague has been rude. You had a fight with your mom. You can’t wait to get home and tell your partner about your stressful day. You want them to listen to you, empathize, and offer comfort. Finally, it’s home time. Your partner calls: "Hey, how was your day?" In reply, you throw down your bag and let out a frustrated scream. Your partner rushes to you, and instead of the hug you’ve been hoping for, they yell, "How dare you throw your bag and scream at me! Get over there and stay there for five minutes. When the time’s up you can talk to me again."
How would you feel? You’re desperate to connect with your partner, yet they push you away. I’m guessing it wouldn’t make you feel good or motivate you to behave better. Now imagine how a kid feels when they’re put in timeout for losing their temper.
I believe that timeout is an ineffective discipline method because it ignores the feelings behind the behavior, doesn’t teach the kid how to do better, and instead teaches them that you only want to be with them when they’re feeling good. It also sends a subconscious message that they should withhold their true feelings from you. Perhaps most importantly, it causes a rift in your connection.
If you’re one of the growing number of parents questioning the effectiveness of popular discipline methods today, here are five alternatives to timeout that improve connection as well as behavior: