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A 7-Year-Old Explains Time-Outs

Photograph by Getty Images

The time-out has become a staple in the modern parenting toolbox. It's a safe way to discipline a child that has replaced old-school spanking. But the time-out is still a practice that is up for debate. Dr. Laura Markham of Aha Parenting writes, "It’s true that time-outs are infinitely better than hitting, and yelling. But time-outs teach the wrong lessons, and they don’t work to create better behaved children. In fact, they always worsen kids' behavior."

According to The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, however, time-outs work, and have "been shown to increase compliance with parental expectations from 25% to 80%."

But what do kids think of time-outs? I asked my 7-year-old daughter about the practice to see what she thought of this debatable parenting tool. However, I have to start this with a humble brag: we didn't have to utilize the time-out very often with our kid. Our 7-year-old daughter has always been eager to please and does not want to disappoint. Plus she saw plenty of her friends suffer the consequences of their negative actions and didn't want to be forced into the same punishment.

Here is her take:

What do you think about time-outs?

The thing about them is that they are soooooo boring. You don't do anything. You just sit there. You just breathe and count, counting down until it's over. That is it. It's like a big waster of time. So, so boring.

But don't you think it's a good tool for parents when kids aren't listening?

No. When you give a kid a time-out, they just sit there. It really doesn't do anything and doesn't mean anything. You just sit there.

Where do you think is a good place to have time-outs?

Like a hallway. But you should never do time-outs in your room because then you'll just sit there and play with your toys.

So it's not a good thing to do when kids are acting up? What would be better?

I think if you said, "No TV," or took away their favorite toy for a little ... OK, maybe not their favorite toy, that would just be mean. Maybe their second of third favorite toy.

You don't think that it's a good way to have kids sit and think about what they've done?

No. Because really I don't think many kids do that. They just sit there and get mad. And a bunch of times they don't think about what they did that was bad and they just do it again and again. I know kids who get lots of time-outs and they keep on doing the bad things over and over. They don't learn.

So would you use time-outs if you were a mommy?

No way. But my kids will be really behaved so I won't have to.

(I love her wishful thinking!)

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