Disciplining Our Children: Time in or Time Out?

by NDFAuthors

  • Jun 24, 2015

What do you do when your adorable  toddler  engages in not-so-adorable behavior, like hitting the friend who snatches her toy, biting Mommy, or throwing her unwanted plate of peas across the room? Is it time for…a time out?

The  traditional ‘Time Out’ method and the new ‘Time In’ method are two of the most widely used methods for disciplining your children; but which one is the better one?

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Time Out:

Nobody really likes to give out punishment, especially to his or her own children, but there are times where this is necessary. Most parents would rate discipline as one of the most important yet challenging tasks for bringing up children to be respectful, well-behaved teenagers and young adults.

The ‘Time Out’ has been made popular by various TV shows such as ‘Nanny 911‘ where the misbehaving child is placed on a ‘naughty step’ or in a ‘naughty room’ for a number of minutes to calm down. According to one study, 10 years ago 70% of parents used Time Outs for children aged between 19 and 35 months. Supporters of the ‘Time Out’ technique feel that it allows the child to understand that they are being punished and lessons are learnt from the process.

Copyright: DmitriMaruta

Copyright: DmitriMaruta

Time In:

On the flipside, many are now supporting a variant of the ‘Time Out’ method; namely the ‘Time In’.

What is a ‘Time In’?

Behavioral experts feel that emotionally understanding your misbehaving child leads to a better connection and conversation that can help to stop their problems. Furthermore, they believe that behavioral-corrective methods should focus on these moments being an opportunity for reflection and rest rather than just a punishment.  By spending the cooling-off period with your child rather than separate from them, parents can give vital instruction, guidance and re-direction.

Importantly, the process of beginning a ‘Time In’ differs from that of the ‘Time Out’. Children should feel like they are being invited to reflect on their misbehavior rather than sent to reflect. Such a feeling builds a relationship with your child that is defined by mutual trust, respect, and confidence.

Copyright: bbevren

Copyright: bbevren

Which method is good for your family?

Every parent has different discipline techniques while a lucky few may not even need to use such techniques! However, both the ‘Time Out’ and ‘Time In’ methods have their time and place.

‘Time Outs’ are clear for what they stand for. They are used for misbehavior and children will come to understand this quickly. If used effectively, and infrequently, ‘Time Outs’ are still a good discipline technique.

If your child is frequently misbehaving and you have tried ‘Time Outs’, perhaps you should consider giving the ‘Time In’ technique a try. Making a special part of the house the ‘Time In’ zone can make your child feel like they are part of their own discipline.

Copyright: BNMK0819

Copyright: BNMK0819

The Final Word:

It is famously hard to get the balance between allowing your child to be adventurous, curious and sometimes mischievous, whilst still being able to discipline them when you feel they have gone too far. I certainly have a while before these problems become a reality for me, however I hope for those who are dealing with bringing up lively children this article has proved a useful insight.


How do you discipline your children? Have you used any of these methods before and in  your experience, which one would you suggest?

Please comment in the section below! We’d love to read your experiences and takes on this topic.