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‘Time outs’ don’t do any harm, parents told

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'Time outs' don't do any harm, parents told

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Using these steps at home with good results

Using "breaks" to discipline children won't hurt them or your relationship with them, research suggests in the US.

Despite criticism of the "naughty step" strategy, children's anxiety has not increased nor has aggressive behavior, according to the eight-year family study.

But a UK psychologist said the key was how the technique was used.

And not all children responded to authoritarian forms of discipline.

The studyfrom the University of Michigan followed nearly 1,400 families and their parenting strategies at three, five, and 10 years of age.

Researchers measured children's positivity and negativity toward their parents and their mental and social skills – using video games, observations and interactions.

At the age of three, a third of parents gave their child time or told them to be quiet in the corner.

Assuming parents continued to use this strategy, the research found no differences in children's anxiety and depression levels, self-control or rule breaking compared to the group of parents who did not use the "time-out" technique.

On the other hand, when parents said they used physical punishment, their children became more aggressive.

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And, among parents who said they were depressed, children were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as more aggressive behaviors.

But, as the study is observational, it is not possible to prove that "timeout" was directly responsible for the subsequent behavior of children over time.

& # 39; Often misunderstood & # 39;

Rachel Knight, the study author and pediatric psychologist at the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital, said parents often question whether they are doing the right thing for their children.

"Unfortunately, the first place many parents seek advice is the internet, social media or friends – not a doctor.

"There is a lot of conflicting information on the web that is not examined or accurate."

She added: "There is a lot of research into the effectiveness of" breaks "in reducing problem behavior when used properly.

"It's a strategy for parents that is often misunderstood and misused."

Dr. Knight said the key to using "timeouts" was:

  • calm
  • consistency
  • positive environment
  • advance process planning
  • making parents and children understand
  • avoid shouting

Helen Barrett, a retired developmental psychologist, said a consistent message is important when disciplining children.

"Although there are parents who use the" naughty step ", we move away from the idea that children need to be punished.

"It always depends on the children – some find it humiliating.

"And it depends on who you are doing it up front. This can be more devastating," she said.

Barrett said there are alternatives, for example, children being sent to their rooms or asked to be quiet.

She said the most effective parenting is to be "warm and authoritarian, not authoritarian."

The NHS offers some tips and advice on how to deal with behavior problems in children.

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