123 Time Out Advantages and Disadvantages


Time out seems to be a popular discipline/punishment method.  Parents need to be aware that it has risks, when they say that it “works” in the short term.  Long term effects of the method are listed under the disadvantages.




Puts limits on behaviours.

Invites little adult emotion.

Increases consistency.

Simple to do.

Helps parents to calm themselves down.

Better then spanking and hitting.

Transferable among care-givers.

Developed for children with ADD.

Sometimes attains Short term goals of stopping misbehaviour.




Promises “magic” and speed which can be unrealistic goal in parenting.

Fails to address Long term goals of  child developing belonging and attachment with family.

Teaches that time-out is a negative punishment rather then a positive life skill.

Invites power struggles.

Encourages submission to a bigger sized person.

Fails to teach problem solving or co-operation skills.

Can incite anger, frustration, and resentment.

Can promote rebellion, retaliation, and getting even behaviours.

Can increase sibling animosity.

Ignores the childs feelings that led to misbehaviour.

Is a barrier to parent-child communication.

Fails to recognize that each child is unique.

Fails to teach internal controls and self-discipline.

Fails to teach conflict resolution and thinking skills.

Fails to teach how to make amends or restitution.

Fails to teach how to self calm when child is in a high emotional state.

Isolates child rather then promote connection.

Not “mutually respectful”.

Gives negative attention to misbehaviour which may increase misbehaviour.

Difficult for extroverts who need to “talk through high emotional states”.

Label’s child with unhealthy self esteem.  “The naughty child goes to the naughty step”.

Increases original and repeat behaviours because child’s underlying needs not addressed.

Children do not have reflective skills until age 7.

Children often do not know or understand why they are in time out.

Often used to help parent calm down rather then for child’s needs.


Copyright jarnall@shaw.ca June 2005  May not be used for reproduction without permission