CLEVELAND, Ohio - It's an age-old debate that many parents struggle with - how to appropriately discipline their children.
A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic looked at whether taking a ‘time-out’ has any negative long-term effects on children.
“This study was looking at ‘time-outs’ over several years and found there were no long-term effects for kids that were put in ‘time-out’ versus those kids that weren’t, and they looked at emotional and behavioral functioning,” said Emily Mudd, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study.
Dr. Mudd said if parents use a ‘time-out’ appropriately to help a child self-regulate, and not as a punishment, it can be effective.
She said if a child is acting out, or having a tantrum, they need guidance to help them regulate their emotions.
Dr. Mudd recommends trying to ‘name’ the feeling first.
Say things like, ‘I can see that you’re very angry right now,’ which may help the child begin to manage their emotions, and a ‘time-out’ may not be necessary.
But, she cautions, that not all kids are the same. Time outs may not work for all children.
If parents do choose to use a time-out, Dr. Mudd said it’s best to keep it short.
“If you are going to use time-outs and it’s something that works for your family, a good rule of thumb is to do one minute per year of age, starting, not much younger than age one - 18 months would really be the youngest age we would recommend,” she said. “So, a two-year-old would get two minutes time-out, and really at that age, it’s just really teaching them how to regulate their bodies.
Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.