From Disciplinary Measures to Watching Over Children

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”Timeout – Where to Implement It?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My 10-year-old is acting up and I have been giving her timeout in her bedroom. It’s working, but I read somewhere that the bedroom is not a good place for this. Do you agree?

Firm Parent

Dear Firm Parent:

I agree with your firmness regarding positive behavior, and I believe that consequences must follow inappropriate behavior. Consequences should be in proportion to serve the need. If a consequence is not working by motivating a change in behavior, then the consequence must be upgraded and enforced to bring about an attitude change.

However, in my opinion, it is unhealthy to use the bedroom for consequences because the bedroom is where people rest and sleep and usually feel content and safe. It has been said that to use the bedroom for timeout is counter productive because it may create poor sleeping habits such as insomnia, nightmares and restless sleep. The subconscious tends to look upon the bedroom as a prison, associating it with confinement and restriction. Timeout can be implemented in the study, the garage, or the kitchen, for example, the basic criteria being that bedroom is not conducive to such disciplinary measures.

”Appointments – When Do I Stop Accompanying My Child?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My 15-year-old son wants to go to his doctor and dentist appointments on his own. Of course his father or I drive him to and from the appointment, but should we still accompany him to and from and at the appointment, or is it time to let him go on his own?

Letting Go

Dear Letting Go:

That is what you will be doing if you let him go. The thoughts that go through my mind as I read your question are, “Can you trust this young mind to go to the dentist and what will that young mind be doing between home and the dentist?” I know that this sounds old fashioned, but I believe that children are given far too much freedom to roam the wilderness of our undisciplined society, and in my opinion our society has become undisciplined largely because many parents are too busy or too selfish and self-centered to love enough and care enough to restrain, to chaperone, to know at all times what their youth is doing, where they are at and what they are doing when they get there. It is unlikely that a 15-year-old mind can be fully trusted because of the natural curiosity, imagination and all those urges and tendencies that invariably cause young people to want to explore and taste the fruit of freedom. My stand is to let them continue to earn their freedom as they grow, until they have developed a frame of reference to the point where self direction and self-discipline can take over and serve them for the rest of their lives.

I realize that when one is young, three or four years seems like forever until they can become their own boss, but to the parent the age of majority is just around the corner, and there is barely enough time to take a deep breath from the time their children are out of the womb and before they are off to college. To me, relatively speaking, that is such a brief moment to enjoy the privilege of parenting.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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