#6 – the No-no’s of time-outs

March 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Posted in Adoption differences | Leave a comment
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This is an issue that surprises many people since “time-outs” are used so pervasively in our society in disciplining children.  Like so many adoption issues, we as adults need to get down to the level of a child’s thinking. When a child misbehaves and he is told he needs to be by himself, away from the family for a “time-out”, his elementary thinking goes something like this – “When I am bad I am sent off by myself, away from the family. They don’t want me around. I wonder if I am really bad, if I will be sent somewhere away from the family permanently.  After all, I was sent away once by my birthparents.”

Now we as adults, know this is not the message we intend to give in a time-out, but in a child’s simple thinkinghe equates being bad with being sent away. This logic can set up testing behavior in the child because he wants to see just how bad he can be and still be accepted by his family. He is testing how much his parents love him.  He misbehaves to test how much bad behavior his family will tolerate before they threaten to send him away forever.  Obviously, this is not healthy for anyone and makes no sense to the parents who wonder what is going through their child’s head.

Other forms of discipline can be used, but it is generally believed by the adoption world that “time-outs” are not healthy for adopted children.  Actually some parents use “time-in’s”, meaning the child must stay physically close to the parent, sometimes staying in the same room as the parent for a designated time.   This tells the child his behavior was not acceptable, but he also knows his parent still wants him around even though he misbehaved.


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