Are Time-Outs Helpful or Harmful to Young Children? by Claire Lerner


Jan 14, 2016

By Claire Lerner

a3d2d602-8b32-4234-9117-fa5388f2a80f-smallWhat’s a parent to do when one of the most commonly used tools for discipline is called into question?

A number of recent articles in popular media that denounce the use of time-outs have sent many parents, understandably, into a tailspin. Critics believe that instead of helping children calm down, time-outs have the opposite effect—causing children to become even more distressed and “dysregulated,” or out of control. Further, children can become so overwhelmed by the disruption in their relationship with their parent during time-out (and by the shame they feel for being “bad”) that their emotional upset increases and their likelihood of learning from the experience decreases. But all of these negative outcomes assume that time-out is approached with anger, shaming, and harshness by the parent. When implemented this way—as punishment—time-out can no doubt be detrimental to the child.

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Decoding Your Child’s Behavior

decoding-2At some point all parents face behavioral challenges with their children. Adopted children have often had unfortunate experiences that may increase misbehavior and make traditional discipline techniques ineffective. Join Phyllis Booth, Founder of Theraplay®, and Mandy Jones, LCSW, JD, certified Theraplay® therapist at the Center for Lifelong Adoption Support, as they provide an empathetic understanding of why negative behaviors occur and discuss tools, techniques and activities that parents can use to tame temper tantrums and create positive relationships.

Topics will include:

  • Differences adopted children face in childhood and how that affects behavior
  • Behavioral and self-regulation issues both at home and in school
  • What parents can do to curb negative behaviors
  • How parents can create happy, connected family relationships

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Is It An Adoption Thing- Register Today

Source: Adoption Learning Partners

6de11597e6d2aa67332be811cd961c79 August, 7th 2013
7:00 PM Central
Q&A: 8:00 PM

Click here to register.

When your child exhibits challenging or frustrating behaviors, do you struggle to determine when to point to adoption and when to assume it’s just kid’s stuff?

Because many families face the difficult task of sorting out if behaviors and challenges are adoption related or not, we’ve asked an expert to help!

Join Dr. Gregory Keck, Director of the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, as he discusses the impact of adoption and trauma on child development.

This webinar will:

  • Discuss common challenging behaviors adopted children may exhibit
  • Offer real life examples and suggestions for handling these behaviors
    Examine effective and ineffective parenting tools.

Making Adjustments at Home

Parents adopting internationally are usually concerned about what will happen after they meet and bring home their new child and what factors can affect this, both negatively and positively. They want to know what they can do to have the most positive adjustment possible, for their child and their family. Questions parents may have before adoptive placement include:

What will affect my child’s —

  • Initial reaction to me
  • Behavior while traveling
  • Transition to a new home
  • Gradual adjustment to a new home and family
  • Attachment to me/us as parent(s)
  • Long-term adjustments, behavior, and development

How much of the influences for adoption adjustment come from –

  • My child’s experiences and age before adoption
  • My child’s genetic inheritance, intelligence, and health
  • My child’s individual temperament and personality
  • My own preparation for international adoption challenges and parenting
  • My own personal strengths and limits in coping with parenting and stress
  • The support and resources available to me, my child, my family

So much of adoption adjustment for families- both children and parents—is dependent upon the unpredictable interchanges between all of these factors, plus the addition of unexpected issues, both small and large, such as weather and travel problems, political and social changes in the child’s country, lost paperwork, unexpected health issue, and so on. The range of possibilities is vast and mind-boggling. And two or three families going through the same type of experiences may have two or three very different opinions about the adoption process and travel, based on their own experiences and strengths.

There are a number of practical suggestions, however, from adoptive parents and adoption professionals, which can help families, prepare for and cope with many of the expected and unexpected challenges in international adoption as parents head for the “home stretch” with their new child. Most parents and professionals say it is enormously helpful to understand as many of the challenges you may face in international adoption and related strategies for coping with these, as is possible. Their views about international adoption might be summarized as “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

Not Yet Attached is not the Same as “Unattached”

International adoptions generally involved children who have lived in orphanages traveling home with parents they have only just met. Children are separated from everything and everyone they have ever known and whisked away by virtual strangers through the confusion of international travel to a new place where nothing is the same and no one speaks their language. Some children are able to adjust better to these many, many changes than others, and with a more affable disposition. Other children are completely distraught and in considerable shock. Most children fall somewhere in between on any given day.

The behaviors children when they first arrive home vary widely, but there is one overall statement that can be made: children take time to make true attachments. Attachments are not fully formed at the first meeting or even in the weeks that follow; this is the introduction of the interactions that nurture attachments. Some children are more open to accepting positive interactions; some children need time to grieve their losses; some children are resistant to new attachments (or attachments in general) and need assistance. But in the first few weeks and months of being part of a family, children are still checking out these new parents; relationship have the potential to grow depending upon the combination of both child and parent experiences and flexibility.

Because new parents must take the lead in encouraging attachments with their child, preparation for international adoption includes information, insights, and approaches on, first, helping children with the transition to a new home and then, second, encouraging healthy attachments. Parents have the task of figuring out what their children need at any point in time and then adapting what they have learned to respond to those needs. This can seem a daunting task, and feel overwhelming at times. The support and encouragement of agency and other adoptive parents can be a tremendous help to new parents.

In the beginning, there are a number of different behaviors a child might display that are typical for children separated from the familiar. These can be considered normal for the situation, not necessarily part of attachment problems. Not yet being attached to parents just met is not the same as being an unattached child. One describes a child being at the beginning of an important but not yet established relationship, the other a child who has serious difficulties with making attachments. Whether these typical reactions to separation and loss will depend on how intense and long lasting these symptoms are for a particular child, whether there are other critical symptoms, and how resistant these are to interventions. Remember that in most cases, parents begin to fall in love with them.

Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

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