We recently wrote an article for TIME Magazine online where we discussed time-outs as a discipline strategy. We’ve received a great deal of positive feedback on the piece, and some criticism as well. We’re excited that people are thinking and talking about the important ways that parents interact with and influence their children in discipline moments, but we’d also like to clear up any confusion about our position on time-outs. So here are our responses to four questions we’ve received since the article’s debut.
1. Are you equating time-outs with child abuse?
As we state in the TIME article: “Brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain — like that caused by rejection — looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity.”
TIME chose the following subtitle without our review: “In a brain scan, relational pain — that caused by isolation during punishment — can look the same as physical abuse.” This has caused confusion because we said in the text that relational and physical pain — not relational pain and physical abuse — look similar on a brain scan. We are referring to a 2003 UCLA study that showed activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex produced by both relational pain and physical pain (Eisenberger, N.I. et al.).
2. Do you believe that time-outs are hurting children?
It all depends on what you mean by the term “time-out.”