Why parents might want to reconsider using time outs

Do you use time outs, mama? 👇

reconsider using time-outs

When a child is feeling disconnected, the whole house begins to feel it. If left unchecked, the home can become a battleground and the child acts out more which causes parents to be frustrated more, and the cycle of disconnection can spin out of control.

We all want to do the best we can by our children, but of course, none of us are perfect. With all we are trying to juggle, it's no wonder that it's so easy to slip into habits that can cause a disconnection between parent and child. Bringing awareness to these habits and to the state of our relationship is the first step to reconnecting to our children and bringing peace back to our homes.

Here are three habits that cause can cause a disconnection between you and your child:

1. Seeing the negative in our children.

Pay attention to how you interact with your child. Focusing on what's going wrong or on the behaviors we don't like is an easy habit to fall into, and when it happens, we lose sight of the positive behaviors and traits we love about our kids.

Are you mostly correcting and criticizing? Is there a certain behavior that's really grating on your nerves? Are you quick to punish? Are you caught in a cycle of time-outs and misbehavior that has you feeling worn out? These are all signs that you're focusing much of your attention on the negative.

2. Spending too much time on devices in front of our kids.

Mindful phone and device usage is a discipline that we must cultivate not only so that we can stay connected to our kids but also to model good habits and set a standard for putting people first.

The average American spends more than 10 hours a day on a device. One study showed that 42% of kids felt ignored by their parents while on vacation because their parents were on their phones. Whether we intend it or not, our kids are feeling the disconnection.

3. Using time outs.

Time outs became a popular alternative to spanking once we began to realize the lasting harm of physical punishment. Unfortunately, we didn't understand the emotional harm that isolation can cause.

Bonnie Compton, a child and adolescent therapist, and parenting coach says, "Children experience feelings of isolation and abandonment when placed in time out. There is a loss of contact, which can be interpreted as loss of a parent's love, especially for younger children. Kids who are sent to their room often believe their isolation is a result of being bad enough that parents don't want to be around them." When a time out is used regularly as a form of punishment, disconnection occurs.

Here's how to reconnect with your child, mama:

1. Engage with your child during play time.

Play is one of the quickest ways to a young child's heart. Whether means playing trains with your toddler or Minecraft with your teen, spending time in your kid's world with him is a great way to grow the attachment bond.

2. Speak your child's love language.

Some children need more affection, others need to hear affirming words. Know what fills your child's love tank and make sure to give it daily. On the flip side, be careful to avoid things that go against their love language. For example, if your child's love language is words of affirmation, be especially careful with criticizing that child. For more on this, read The 5 Love Languages of Children.

3. Meet emotions with empathy.

Children need a safe space to express their emotions and to feel heard and understood. Often times, their big emotions can stir up our own, and remaining calm and empathetic in the face of that is challenging. However, you'd be surprised at how healing it is just to feel listened to and to be able to get it out in the loving and warm presence of a parent.

4. Be a parent you can talk to.

Practice active listening without doling out immediate judgment or advice. We have a tendency to want to offer our two cents before our kids even finish a sentence, and we often discount their feelings with words like, "It's not that big of a deal" or "You're blowing this way out of proportion." The more we listen well and open those lines of communication, the stronger our connection becomes.

5. Use positive discipline.

Trade time out for time in and ditch punishments for problem-solving together. When you come alongside your child with a focus on teaching rather than working against from an authoritarian standpoint, your child will feel that you're on their side and that they can count on you for guidance. The more you try to control, the more that counter will instinct will be activated.

6. Recognize and point out the good in your child.

This is a good corrective measure if you've been too critical. Shift your lens to see the good, and point it out to your child. Research says we need five good interactions for every negative one, so if you've scolded or criticized once, find five ways to encourage or affirm your child.

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less