I conducted a little experiment today after reading a parenting post by Mayim Bialik with the title No More Timeouts, No More Tiger Moms: How to Discipline Your Kids by Disciplining Yourself. It was an article listing methods of discipline to stay away from when attachment parenting, as well as introducing methods of discipline that have worked for the author and her family. In it, Bialik suggests that the use of timeouts is undesirable in a gentle discipline environment and explained why she felt this way (side note: Ms. Bialik holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience) It inspired me to try eliminating timeouts in our house.
I read about parenting all the time. Not because I feel lost or as though I’m searching for truth- I am actually quite confident in my parenting. However, I believe that there is always room for improvement. I love getting inspired by other people’s perspectives and views and then re-evaluating my own thoughts and behaviors.
Regarding timeouts, I have read many pieces which suggest that the timeout as a disciplinary tool is not exactly ideal. Though it is physically non-violent, it does create a detachment from the child that cannot really be considered ‘gentle’. I have been somewhat unwilling to take a closer look at my use of timeouts with my daughter because I consider it a useful tool.
However, Bialik’s article got my brain’s wheels turning again yesterday. I examined my timeout use more thoroughly and came to the conclusion that I do not dislike the tool itself- I think it can be very useful. But I did find that I tend to misuse the tool. Looking at my own behavior in relation to the frequency of timeouts for R, I could clearly see that the number of timeouts increased greatly when my mood was not good or when I was preoccupied with something else and not fully paying attention to the kids.
I wanted to put it to the test. Today, I tried my hardest to see my children in an absolutely positive light and to communicate with them frequently. I had really fun conversations with my daughter and I could see how much she was enjoying the genuine attention I was giving her. We played more games and read more books than we usually do. When I felt as though an unwanted behavior was eminent, I tried to redirect the kids’ attention to something else. It worked! Today we had a timeout free day! It was a happy and fun day.
Of course I am well aware that this may have just been a good day. I will have tired days and grumpy days and things will be different. However, I am going to make every attempt to use other tools of communication before using a timeout. I am going to give timeins a try when a necessary situation presents itself, in which you still remove the child from the situation, but do not isolate it and instead have a conversation about the unwanted behavior.
Why am I telling you all this? Not because I think you should do things like Mayim Bialik or myself. Parenting is a very personal and individual relationship that we all have to figure out for ourselves. I just want to throw ideas out there because they may give food for thought. We are all works in progress, especially as parents.