If you’ve been around here for a while then you know I’m not a fan of fear-based anything – fear-based parenting, fear-based scripts, or fear-based compliance – when I did a deep-dive on the “time-out” I expected to find a lot of justification for fear. When in fact, I found quite the opposite.
First, hear me when I say that I have a fundamental problem with the premise that time-out is used when a child “deliberately is noncompliant”. I’ve seen enough “deliberate noncompliance” to know that when a child engages in some sort of “testing” behavior, they are, in fact, asking the parent for help to feel safe and/or connected. I also believe that a foundational mindset shift away from obedience and compliance and into a collaborative relationship is important. For the purpose of this article, I want those two caveats to overlay the common themes I found between my paradigm and this traditional parenting technique.
Here’s where it got interesting: in the “time-out” model, the parent offers a structured, predictable response, which helps the child feel safe. Yes, the structured response is a threat for compliance, but what powerful feedback for parents to know: that a consistent, predictable, calm response can help a child regulate. This lightbulb ignited the idea that maybe we can find common themes between this technique and the gentle parenting mindset to help bridge the gap, calm the controversy, and get to the heart of effective discipline.
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