In my family, time-outs work so well that my 4-year-old recently told my 6-year-old to take a time-out for hitting — and he did. I’m lucky, I know. Not everyone finds this
discipline tactic so tried-and-true.
“For some children, time-outs are a joke,” says Larry Koenig, Ph.D., author of Smart Discipline: Fast, Lasting Solutions for Your Peace of Mind and Your Child’s Self-Esteem. “They either won’t stay put, or they get into a power struggle with their parents, or they couldn’t care less about having to sit in a chair for ten minutes. In cases like that, the time-out doesn’t modify misbehavior one bit.” Continue reading
My friend Emily has three amazingly well-behaved children. They put their toys away when she tells them to, go to bed without a fuss, and even settle their own disputes. I actually witnessed her 3-year-old son calmly ask for a truck back from a friend who had yanked it out of his hands.
Emily admits that her children have their moments — “They are kids, after all!” — but says that real discipline challenges are few and far between. “What’s your secret?” I once asked, hoping she could impart some much-needed wisdom. “Threatening them with punishment? Giving them time-outs? Bribing them with Oreos?” Emily shook her head. “Nothing like that,” she told me. “If I’ve done anything right, it’s that I’ve made it clear from the get-go what I expect from them. Now, all I have to do is shoot them a look, and they know to discipline themselves.” Continue reading