Study finds that putting children in time-out isn’t harmful if used correctly

Time-outs used to help teach children to self-regulate emotions

Study finds that putting children in time-out isn’t harmful if used correctly
Study finds that putting children in time-out isn’t harmful if used correctly

DETROIT – Time-outs have become the go-to discipline strategy for many parents of young children.

Studies find that more than 3 in 4 parents report using time-outs to deal with misbehavior and about 70 percent of those think they’re effective. While experts said some parents are missing the real point of the time-out, overall the study has good news.

The study looked at time-outs over several years from birth to around 10 years old or fifth grade. It found no long-term effects for children put in time-outs vs. children that weren’t.

Dr. Emily Mudd, a pediatric behavioral health doctor at Cleveland Clinic, said researchers looked at data from a national survey of more than 1,000 children. Results showed no association between use of time-outs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, aggression or self-control.

Experts said parents should use a time-out appropriately to help children learn to self-regulate their emotions and not as a punishment. Time-outs don’t work for all children and if you do use them, keep them short.

Mudd also wants to remind parents that children often receive a lot of negative feedback throughout the day and it’s important to take time to praise them when they’re behaving appropriately.

How to effectively

  • Use time-outs to help children self-regulate emotions not punishments
  • Time-outs don’t work for all children
  • Keep them short
  • Praise positive behavior (not just focusing on negative)

About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.