The Truth About “Time Out” Or “Thinking Chair”

The “thinking chair” is not something we use in Positive Discipline because it is a behavioral practice that from our philosophy does not teach long-term skills, i.e., for life.

Some books and foster counselors say that it is appropriate to place the child in a boring and solitary place – in a relationship of one minute for years you have – to reflect on what he did wrong. But it turns out that neurosciences tell us that a young child by himself does not have the ability to “reflect” on his behavior. That is, because of his young age, he does not have the cognitive ability to be self-critical about his behavior, the environment, and how he is supposed to behave properly in that environment.

Many parents are in favor of “time out” and think that it works because children effectively stop their behavior (some eye, others make it worse). What happens is that they stop because they know that if they continue “doing that” they will be left alone in a corner and that causes them pain or sadness, among other feelings that children do not know how to process.

Who would like to stay isolated in a corner by “messing up” while learning something?

Imagine that you are coming to a new job and that it is the first time you have faced something or that your training to do it has been low or null. You “kick it” and you throw the work according to your impulses or ideas, but you water it because you are effectively learning and that takes time like everything in life. Then your boss arrives and when you see such a panorama with an angry face and without giving you much explanation he sends you to “reflect” on what you did to a lonely and boring corner of the office.

How would you feel? Would you do the same thing again? Many will choose not to repeat that behavior (they will have “learned their lesson” is what is styled) and others driven by resentment will choose to seek the return of their boss to get their way or to revenge for how he made them feel, because rage that they treat us in a disrespectful way and that is valid for both adults and children.
With this practice (time out) the child stops his behavior under a “cause-effect” teaching, but in reality, he has not internalized at a conscious level, and according to his cerebral maturation level, what he did is wrong or is inadequate.

The message the child perceives is: “If I do something that my parents or caregivers do not think, they leave me alone.”  Of course, we have to set limits and teach them appropriate rules and behaviors – because we live in society and can not go through life doing what we like without measuring consequences -, however, the human being when going through childhood is facing a stage of acquisition of skills and learning and the task of adults in charge should be to help them in acquiring those skills with the least possible emotional cost.
As Jane Nelsen puts it: “Let’s leave behind the crazy idea that to make children behave better, we must first make them feel worse.” This leads to a healthy growth of children.

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