Positive Parenting Tools: Time In vs. Time Out

Time out is a commonly used parenting practice to stop children from misbehaving. It has often been thought of as a non punitive alternative to harsher discipline such as spanking, however there are times when using time out can turn into a power struggle, and has the potential to leave children feeling vulnerable, upset, confused and insecure.

Time in is a parenting practice that can respectfully create a chance for children to change their behavior. Children really thrive when they feel loved and a sense of connection to their parents and caregivers. When children feel that they belong, when they sense that their words and ideas matter and they have a chance to reflect on their behavior they are more likely to want to change their behavior to something more positive.

So are time out’s really bad?
Most parents that use time out do so with good intentions and sometimes, a time out can give parents and children a chance to take a break from each other to cool off.  However, non punitive parenting tools such as Time In are really effective in helping children develop life long skills such as  regulating emotions and making decisions.  It’s a mistaken but deeply ingrained notion that children need to feel bad about their behavior in order to change it. When parents focus on using time in instead, their response also tends to become more pro-active instead of reactive. If you are really used to Time Out and feel like it’s not a practice you can give up yet, you may want to consider making time to talk and reflect on what happened before the time out and also observe how your child is really feeling about it.

Here is a quick overview of Time In vs. Time Out:



Additional resources:

Get the book: 12 Alternatives to Time Out: Connected Discipline Tools for Raising Cooperative Children twelve_alts


Read about 11 Alternatives to Time Out for toddlers

Find more information about Time In vs. Time Out.

Read more about the Disadvantages of Time Out by Dr. Aletha Solter of Aware Parenting Institute
Read more about transforming Time Out into Positive Time Out by Dr. Jane Nelson author of  Positive Discipline

Read more about “What’s wrong with time out” by Dr. Laura Markham of Aha!Parenting

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

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