Are time-outs as bad as spanking?

Watch above: When disciplining a child, is a time-out better or worse than spanking?

SASKATOON – Is placing your child in the corner for a ‘time-out’ the best idea?  Not according to the latest research.

While it’s the most popular form of discipline among parents, experts say it may not be good for your child and it can be as harmful to a child as spanking.

In a recent article, experts say brain scans showed that pain caused by the isolation of ‘time-outs’ looked a lot like physical pain and that parents should stop using it to correct their child’s behaviour.

“As a blanket statement I would disagree with that, the context that they’re placing it in it seemed to me in an abusive environment with a non-loving parent so there are more variables that we need to take into account,” said Dr. Gerald Farthing with the University of Saskatchewan, an expert in clinical psychology as well as child and adolescent development.

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The article suggests the next time the child needs to be disciplined, the parents might want to consider a ‘time-in’: forging a loving connection, such as sitting with the child and talking.

Again, Farthing disagreed with this advice, “you need to put money in the bank, you need to do that when the child hasn’t misbehaved.”

According to Farthing, ‘time-outs’ can be very effective if done properly, in an environment of warmth and instruction, where the time-out serves as a teachable moment to a child.

“These are ways that your behavior broke a rule, this is what you need to do to correct it, this is the kind of empathy you need to develop, may be this is the kind of strategy you need to repair the relationship with somebody you offend then the time-out really serves a purpose.”

Farthing explained that often ‘time-outs’ can be productive in a situation where both the child and parent need a break from each other then can come back to discuss the issue when both are in a calmer state.

“With the ‘time-outs’ we need to see it as an improvement on punishment but we need to see that to make optimal use of it,” explained Farthing.

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