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ArmsOfLove 03-22-2005 04:05 PM

Why not time outs?
Punitive parenting is adversarial. It pits parents against children in what many punitive experts openly refer to as a war. Even Dr. Phil talks about "picking your battles" and warns parents that when you pick them you had better make sure that you "win" them. But as Christians we are told that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and principalities of this present darkness. We are told that Satan is "The Adversary", not our children. In fact, our children are in the position of being our brothers and sisters in Christ. The "rod", the "Shebet", is properly used when it's used to beat off the adversary--the wolf attacking the sheep and the devil attacking our children. It's not for hitting sheep or children.

But why not time outs?

It's actually a good question when the AAP has advocated for Time Outs as a preferred alternative to corporal punishment. In truth, if the choice is between a spanking and a time out, I'd suggest the time out. But that's not the only choice! And both are rooted in a punitive mindset. A punishment is something that is added on to teaching to cause the child to feel bad with the underlying belief that only by feeling bad can they learn. But, in fact, they learn lots of things without feeling bad. They learn to walk and talk and spell their own name without requiring punishment, so the argument that they can't learn if they don't feel bad is completely unfounded. In fact, a basic belief in GBD and PD is that people who feel good act good while people who feel bad act bad. So when a child is acting bad it is illogical to think that making them feel worse will somehow get them to act better.

Of course I'm speaking of classic time outs here. Or, thanks to Supernanny, what is sometimes referred to as a naughty place. The way this works is that a child is separated from the family and ignored for a time that is equal to 1 minute per age of the child. The child is told that they are bad/naughty/misbehaving/etc and the parent will get them when the time is up. They are instructed to "think about" what they have done wrong. Supernanny insists on an apology at the end .

There are several punitive aspects to this.

While Supernanny allows for young children to be viewable by the family, traditional time outs, and her Naughty Room for older children, require that the child be isolated away from the family during the time out. This gives the clear message to a child that acceptance in the family is conditional upon their behavior. If it is not acceptable they are rejected; if it is acceptable, they are accepted. For many children this translates into a message of conditional love. Also, while introverted children may respond okay to forced isolation, for many extroverted children this is traumatic.

The one-minute-per year is an arbitrary time. There is no guarantee that a child will be calmed down in that time, and other children will calm down long before that time is over.

When an apology is required to leave the time out or naughty place this is a forced apology and not a true indicator of a child's remorse. They are taught that an apology is a negotiating tool and not taught empathy or remorse.

In the place of classic time outs there are many GBD tools that provide actual teaching and do not have the punitive aspects. GBD is an entire paradigm shift. Children are not viewed as "naughty". Parents and children aren't in battles that must be won. Since people who feel good act good, one goal of GBD is to help people feel good. Now, happy isn't the only acceptable emotion, and there's lots of opportunity to use tools like reflecting feelings. The way that people learn how to feel good is to be equipped with tools that they can use to exercise self control in difficult situations. Taking a break, or what is sometimes referred to as a "Positive time out" is one way to do that. As a means for providing this, I recommend a Comfort Corner.

A Comfort Corner is a space in the common area of a home that is set up to be a retreat for a child (or an adult). It's a place they can go to step out of a situation, take a break, regroup. There are things there that provide them with comfort--stuffed animals, pillows, blankets, music, books, whatever will bless your child. Let them help design it if you want. It can be as simple as a chair with a blanket, or as complex as a room under the stairs full of options. some will argue that this is rewarding poor behavior, but if you aren't actively high fiving and saying "awesome" about their poor behavior then you aren't rewarding or encouraging it. I've never thanked my child for yelling or said that if they did I'd give them ice cream One illustration I like to use, to make it relevant for adults, is if I come over and you've been having a bad day and not behaving well (maybe grousing or yelling at the kids, not doing your responsibilities around the house, etc) which would you prefer me to do:

1) "I'm disgusted at the way you've been behaving today. Your children deserve better than this. What kind of a mother do you think you are? You need to go into your room for 30 minutes (1 minute per year ) and really think about how bad you are. I will come and get you in 1/2 hour and then I will be nice to you."


2) "Wow, you're having a bad day. How about I watch the kids for a bit and you go get a cup of coffee and take a break Come back when you're feeling better and if you want to talk about what's going on we can do it then."

When a child is sent to the Comfort Corner the only rule is that you don't talk about why they were sent when they are there, and they may come out when they are ready to rejoin the family and be cooperative.

For older children there may be a need for a tool called "you hit, you sit". When children get aggressive and violent it's appropriate to stop their bodies and give them a chance to get their brain back in control. If you have a Comfort Corner they can be sent there, or even just sitting on the couch until they are ready to be calm in their play and make amends.

I do teach children how to apologize, including the words ,"I'm sorry", but more importantly the words, "Will you forgive me?" And I teach all of my children how to forgive--because forgiveness is about casting off the burden of unforgiveness and going on with your life at peace with others. When you wrong someone you owe them a debt. Making amends is about taking responsibility and doing what you can to pay that debt. We can never undo our actions, but making an effort to repay the debt we owe someone teaches personal responsibility for our actions, and is much more important than the ability to say empty "I'm sorry"s. Saying "I'm sorry" might be part of making amends. There may also be a need to offer a gentle touch to make amends for a violent one, to return a toy and offer an additional one where a toy was taken, to do a kind act where unkindness was done. I have the offending child ask the offended child what kind thing they can do to help them feel better.

Mostly, GBD is about working to proactively prevent the situations that would result in time outs. By knowing our children well enough to structure situations to set them up for success. Using the 5 Steps makes instructions non-optional and has built in "help" if the child is not able to accomplish something themselves. Ultimately, rather than an adversarial relationship, GBD equips parents to be the coaches on the family team. There may be a time during a sporting event where someone is pulled off the field to take a Positive Time Out, or have a break, regain their cool and get ready to go back on the field. Something is very broken on the team when someone is thrown from the game in a negative time out. When you view your family as a team it's much easier to see that when one person fails, we all fail, but when one person succeeds, we all succeed. Success for all is the goal.

Radosny Matka 03-22-2005 08:06 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thanks, Crystal. I'm sending this to my dh.

mummy2boys 03-22-2005 10:45 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Okay....have printed this doing alot of printing and reading lately....will I ever get it right??? :shrug

Heather 03-23-2005 07:47 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
:clap I love the illustration using adults...

Though sometimes I've asked DH to send me to my room.... JK


Charlie U 03-23-2005 03:47 PM

Re: Why not time outs?

When an apology is required to leave the time out or naughty place this is a forced apology and not a true indicator of a child's remorse. They are taught that an apology is a negotiating tool and not taught empathy or remorse.
See, I was trying to figure out why the force apology bothered me so much. We watched Suppernanny the other night. No way that little boy understood why he was apologizing.


godsgracegiven 03-24-2005 06:13 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thank you Crystal, I printed this last night, so dh and I could read it. It was so encouraging. Any ways, just wanted to say thank you too. :)

Epieikeia 03-24-2005 06:31 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thank you Crystal...can't wait to talk it over with dh(that's how I process my thoughts :lol).

I especially love this...

In fact, our children are in the position of being our brothers and sisters in Christ.
..that is what helps keep my anger at bay. When I look at them as fellow brothers and sister in Christ I recognize their need for grace is just as great as mine...and wish only to restore them gently. :heart

4blessings 03-25-2005 04:22 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Wow! I love this! I esp. love the adult analogy. I'm guilty of using time-outs when I'm at my wit's end. I'll re-think that now.

ReadingMommy 03-25-2005 06:10 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Awesome article Crystal, just printed for hubby too. Great conversation about comfort corner too, really got me re -thinking things again.... I need to visit this forum everyday or I slip!!! :blush

phermion 03-25-2005 06:45 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
:hug Thank you, Crystal.

3BlueArrows4Us 03-30-2005 02:06 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Wow, wow, wow!!!

Thank you, Crystal, for this great explanation! It makes so much sense! I will be letting Jason read this for sure. I realized I do much of this "you hit, you sit", giving time on the couch to calm oneself, etc and so I can see I am already headed in the right direction. Lord, please help me keep moving that way! where can I make our Comfort Corner??? (Might need one upstairs and one downstairs!)

:tu :)

Wikolia 03-30-2005 10:56 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
thank you so much for posting this.

kcasmama 03-31-2005 05:11 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thank you. Thank you. Kathryn thanks you for preparing me to be a better mama when the difficulties arise :hug

Loved the part about teaching forgiveness. I was never taught how to forgive. Still trying to get it right...

God Bless You!!!!

bostonsmama 03-31-2005 08:43 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
i absolutely LOVE gcm! this is the first post i have read at the new gd forum on the new board, i am soo glad i did! i cant wait for dh to read this too, he's going to love it. crystal, you rock! thanks soo much for posting this!

TraceMama 04-05-2005 12:19 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
As always, Crystal, I really appreciated your post and your insight! I'm still waiting for the video of Primary Focus to see you in action : ) I'll be printing this off for my dh and sending it to a friend! Thanking God for the blessing that is YOU!

findingjoy 04-10-2005 08:09 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
This was wonderful! After reading it, I immediately sent it to my dh. Then I read the other replies and saw that I wasn't the only one! :smile

Lois 04-11-2005 05:56 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
great insight! :clap

xianjoymomma 04-12-2005 05:05 PM

Re: Why not time outs?

Awesome Crystal! Your wisdom has really changed my life.

GrowingInGrace 05-03-2005 10:59 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
Awesome!!!!!!! Where was this (or, where was I? :lol) the other day when I was trying to explain to a mama on a different GD board why time-outs are punitive.

If she ever posts again I'll refer her here and to your book!

4LovesMom 05-03-2005 05:04 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thank you so much for this information. It is so helpful, and it just makes sense, even for someone like me coming across it for the first time. It makes me sad that I have always just sort of adopted the mainstream thinking when it comes to discipline even though I've gone against the flow in other areas: birth being one example. Oh well, I'm glad God has given me this now when I need it the most with three little children in my constant care!

Boys and Angels 05-21-2005 10:23 PM

great post! thank you for the information and explanation . . . .
Soemthing I always had questions about. And it seems so logical explained the way you did. The "time out" concept itself isn't the problem. It's the USE of it that gets all confused. Basically, if you look at it that way, you can see that the COMFORT CORNER *IS* actually a time out, but with a different perpective. Sort of from the positive view instead of the negative. It achieves the same thing, removing the child from the difficult situation, but gives them a different FOCUS . . . on calming and comforting themselves rather than dealing with feelings of inadequacy and being "bad." The term "time out" originally meant just that . . . TIME away from the situation that was causing a problem, a way to STOP the behavior and redirect it, but too many people use it with the old "sit in the corner" philosophy, and that's where it starts to fall apart.

Thanks for pointing htis out.

mama j 05-28-2005 09:24 AM

Re: Why not time outs?

Soemthing I always had questions about.
Me too. I wasn't sure how the comfort corner worked. Great explanation! Thanks Crystal! Printing!!! :tu

MomToDM 06-08-2005 09:12 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
I just set up our Comfort Corner today, and when ds had a meltdown this afternoon he went there and drank some applejuice and just hung out there for a few minutes, it was actually much better than a time out. He was able to relax afterwards and we had a great evening :-). I just wanted to say thanks for your insight, I sent it to my husband also. He is very into time out, and I've been trying to explain GBD to him and he seems to agree but still threatens the time outs. Maybe what you said will help him understand a little better. Thanks.


Booklover 06-10-2005 11:11 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thanks, that was very helpful. Except I want to go to my room alone for 41 minutes. :giggle

apbristowmom 06-11-2005 11:21 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
Hi Crystal, I'm new here and am so happy I found this site! It's so hard to find AP Chrisitian mommies!! I am so interested in learning more about GBD. My son is overall very well behaved (we are very blessed) although I have to say year 4 has been harder than what people say about year 2.... for us anyway. I am anxious to learn ideas....but I was laying in bed the other night thinking about how Christ disciplines us and I immediately thought of the garden. How God covered them with clothing and what a picture that is of Christs covering of our sins. But then I thought about God making them leave the garden, and that seems to have a punitive aspect to it. He could have left them there, but he didn't. We also can't take the times in the Bible they talk about stoning disobedient children and use that as a reason for hurting our children, anymore than Gary Ezzo should be using Christ's words on the cross to advocate letting our chilren cry out without our attention. I'm interested in positive alternatives. I definately don't like it when my son is disobedient, and we truly try to find out what the root issue is....hunger, tiredness etc... but sometimes when you say for instance, "sweetheart that is mommy's necklace and it can break if you pull on it. Please come here and I'll put it on for you or whatever.....then when the child won't come or your afraid he might break something valuable or hurt himself....I'm not sure what to do. He has always been so good about knowing his boundaries i.e. his drawers in my jewelry armoire.....with things he can play with. I have even sometimes just set him in "time out" (the foot of our indoor stairs) and had him eat a snack and then come out when he was done. Mainly to get his bloodsugar up (which was why he was being disrespectful) but to also let him know that that type of speaking to each other is unacceptable in our home. What are your thoughts? I'm truly interested in ideas....and finding ways that God finds acceptable to help our chilren grow. And ways that don't involve us getting upset with one another or having power struggles.

I'm a former elementary school teacher and have always found that giving chilren choices is important in discipline. For instance, come over here and let mommy put the neclace on for you, or we can put it away.....or we've often said it's o.k. if your tummy is too full for any more dinner. But if your tummy is too full for dinner then it's surely too full for dessert. You can choose to eat a little more.....whatever.....but if you truly don't want it that's fine too. Then he would not get the dessert, and he has made the choice to fill his body with what he feels he can hold and I've made sure he has eaten some healthy food in the process. I used lots of incentives for positive discipline in my classroom, but have avoided using anything too structured at home.....I'm afraid I'll start running the place like a classroom of 25 instead of a family of 3. :D Discipline is an interesting aspect of parenting. Thank God for his word and that love covers a multitude of sins right!?

Thanks for your insight


ArmsOfLove 06-12-2005 01:05 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Actually my home works great when I use the 5 Steps and run my home like the Kindergarten class I used to teach at the Church Nursery ;)


But then I thought about God making them leave the garden, and that seems to have a punitive aspect to it. He could have left them there, but he didn't
Actually, I see this as a wonderfully gracious act! He prevented some very serious natural consequences! If they had eaten of the Tree of Life after eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil then there would have been no hope of salvation for mankind :(

Often I act to prevent the natural consequences that my children aren't old enough or mature enough to survive and learn from. I use my life experience to see what the natural consequences are to their actions and then I decide if they are ready for them or not--if so, I allow them; if not, I prevent them. They might not like experiencing them, but that doesn't make them punitive ;)

And I think of Cain--he had to be sent out because of murdering Abel, but he was granted a mark of protection from the Lord. Such grace!

apbristowmom 06-13-2005 11:16 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
Crystal, Thank you so much for your insights!! I really never thought of the garden situation in that light before....but yes, the aspect of the protection for cain is such example of grace. God is so amazing in his outpouring of love and compassion on us!

When you said 5 steps you used in your kindergarten class....what were they? In my class (1st grade) I used a combination of positive incentives and then a color chart system for them to help self-monitor their behavior each day. Usually we worked on a point system and spelled a word ...sortof like a hangman game. If they got so many points each day....then at the end of the day, we put a letter up before they all went home. The next day we started over, and once the word was spelled completely we got whatever it was we spelled. But then each child individually had a pocket chart with 4 colors in it. Green, yellow, red and blue. Each color symbolized for go...(great job), yellow for slow down and think about your actions....and red was just 5 minutes off recess ( I never believed in taking away an entire recess from a child) then blue meant I had to contact home in some way.

Would love to hear more about can I get a copy of the book mentioned. You are the author right? Is that something I can get ordered at a local Barnes and Noble?



ArmsOfLove 06-13-2005 11:46 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
The Five Steps are in a sticky in this forum :) I worked on staff with the Kindergarten group in the Early Childhood Ministry at Word of Grace church in Mesa, AZ. The Five Steps were developed by the Director there. And the book is "Biblical Parenting" and you can get it at barnes and noble online, and should be able to order it through your local barnes and noble :)

lovinmama 08-05-2005 08:35 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
this was GREAT!! i thought that giving time outs was a much better approach than spanking but now i'm crossing that off my list all together! it helps me to think of my child as a brother or sister in Christ. It helps me put him in a different light. i really appreciate the "comfort corner" idea, that's great! that sounds a lot better than the naughty chair, room, etc. it makes more sense. i don't want to have to force my child to say "i'm sorry" when he doesn't mean it or wants to say it yet.
thank you for your insight!

Julia R 08-11-2005 03:44 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
OK, so how do you implement the use of the "Comfort Corner?" I have always had the girls go somewhere to themselves to calm down in the middle of a melt down. It has pretty much always been a "You need a minute to go calm down, you can come back when you are ready to be with the rest of us" kind of thing. But lately it has actually turned into a "Go to your room!" sort of thing. I can see where it is taking a turn. I noticed early on with DD1 with an explosive personality that she needed to have a place to work out the emotion she was feeling that was an acceptable place to cry or scream, or beat on the pillow or whatever -behavior that is not fair for everyone else to have to endure, but nevertheless has real emotions behind it, then to come out when she's ready to behave in a way other people can toerate. So, if you use the "Comfort Corner" and need to put it in effect - Say you have a child who is screaming at the top of her lungs and hitting because her sister won't give her a toy she wants, and a total tantrum erupts. You can't talk to the child, because the the decible level is a little high. How do you go from that moment to the child is in the "Comfort Corner" and regaining composure?

ArmsOfLove 08-11-2005 10:38 AM

Re: Why not time outs?
Well I would take them if they need help getting themselves there, but I'd make sure they have a vested interest in creating the Comfort Corner and are in the habit of spending time there. Then I'd say, "Hey, you need a break. I can see you are very upset. You need to go to the Comfort Corner and I'll see you when you feel better." Or something to that effect. I would consider using the 5 Steps to get them there, but most children love going there and it's not usually a problem once they are used to it :)

Christian_Princess 05-24-2006 06:58 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading this sticky. One thing though, I kind of feel that I would want to stay with my child during his time at the comfort corner acting as his "life coach" helping him work through his difficult feelings. Until he has an ample amount of tools at his disposal, I wouldn't feel comfortable sending him to a "comfort corner" to cool off by himself and to rejoin when he is ready.

I do agree that the comfort corner should not be a place that is used only when child is in a meltdown. It should be more like a meditative place where we spend time daily meditating, praying or just relaxing. For me, my comfort corner is my altar in my bedroom. I go there to recharge with the Holy Spirit daily and then when I am upset and need guidance from God.

ArmsOfLove 05-24-2006 07:21 PM

Re: Why not time outs?

One thing though, I kind of feel that I would want to stay with my child during his time at the comfort corner acting as his "life coach" helping him work through his difficult feelings. Until he has an ample amount of tools at his disposal, I wouldn't feel comfortable sending him to a "comfort corner" to cool off by himself and to rejoin when he is ready.
this is a great way to use it. I determine if my child needs time alone to cool off or needs me with them and take it situation by situation :tu

kristel 05-29-2006 05:36 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
I have been using time outs and 'sorry' also..So..What if child one has just hit child two ? I can't 'help' her since it's already done. If i do nothing will it continue? ..a little confused :shrug

ArmsOfLove 05-29-2006 05:58 PM

Re: Why not time outs?

Originally Posted by kristel
I have been using time outs and 'sorry' also..So..What if child one has just hit child two ? I can't 'help' her since it's already done. If i do nothing will it continue? ..a little confused :shrug

I know we've had some specific threads on this one that you may be able to do a quick search in this forum for. what I do is take the hand of a hitting child and say kindly but very firmly "No hitting. Hitting hurts." I then tell them (even at a young age) that they have wronged their sibling and need to make amends and lead the hitter to a gentle touch. If they are really wanting to hit then I redirect them to hitting something appropriate (mattress, boppy, pillow). This teaches what *to* do both in regards to the sibling (not to hit, make amends) and to the hitting (redirection to something appropriate) and as they grow into greater maturity they will have good habits :)

Beth1231 08-16-2006 02:10 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Here comes my third post on this board :)
The 22 month old that I nanny for is extremely bright and usually super cooperative with her mother and myself (I'm sooo grateful for this). This afternoon, her mother told me that the little girl had gotten her first time out a few days previously. It seems that she has been stomping on her dog's tail and laughing (I think she likes the dog's startled reaction?) and her mother had been gently and firmly reminding her to be gentle and showing her how to be gentle etc for about three days in a row. I think you can see where this is going. Finally, her mother put her in her crib (she stayed in the room with her) for two minutes and called it a time out and told her she needed to say she was sorry for hurting the dog. I asked her mom what the reaction was and she told me "it shocked her and shattered her world." :( Okay.....I'm very very new to all of this. Can you give me some pointers on how you think when your child repeats a misdeed a few days in a row? Is the gentle discipline thought process "reteach and redirect and remind" basically? Again, I'm super new to this (I've lurked a bit, but that's about it). Thank you, ladies :hug

ArmsOfLove 08-16-2006 02:15 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
to your list I'd add "remove" & separate the chilod from the dog but not in a punitive way :)

AppalachianMama 08-24-2006 12:33 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
This is fascinating. I may try it...dh is keen on the time outs...he may resist. I have to admit that I have been having this off feeling when I give ds1 a time out. Just feels so sad. And, it does feel too punitive when he comes out and says, "I never do that again." :(

norwaymamma 08-25-2006 03:42 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
Thank you so much for posting this. I like the comfort corner idea. And what you said about apologies is beautiful. I mean it. :yes
I have a feeling I will be reading this post again and putting it into practice.

Garnet 08-25-2006 03:44 PM

Re: Why not time outs?
is a time out with a parent acceptable?

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