Parents who faithfully use time outs with their children as a form of discipline can still find that they are “not working”. The temper tantrums, oppositional behaviors, and meltdowns remain unchanged. Parents can even find that their children will place themselves in the designated spot for a time out while continuing to act out.
This indicates that some kind of behavioral conditioning is going on (If I misbehave I have to go to the time out chair), but that it is not actually changing the misbehaviors (Why isn’t this a magic chair?) While this is disappointing and frustrating to well-meaning parents, we really don’t want to raise children who act out of conditioned responses, but who make choices based on responsible convictions. In this, as in so many parenting situations, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Doing our homework by coming to truly know our children can enable us to anticipate the needs they cannot meet, the times when they are too tired or hungry to hold it together, and to intuit and appreciate the feelings that they are too young to recognize. In so doing we can circumvent and manage a significant majority of our children’s behavioral crises – the ones that can be so challenging for parents and children.