Parenting: Do time-outs help or hurt?

WASHINGTON — What’s the best way to deal with a misbehaving or out-of-control child? It’s an issue with which plenty of parents struggle. A “time-out” is a common consequence for disobedient little ones, but is it effective?

The answer isn’t clear.

Time-out has been researched for more than 30 years. And, just as different parents have different approaches, so do the experts.

“A time-out is a great way to remove the child from the situation and give them a chance to cool off,” says Janet Ozzard, executive editor of the parenting website

She says a time-out should always be implemented compassionately and with patience, and never as a punishment — something that can be difficult in the heat of the moment.

Alan E. Kazdin, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, tells the American Psychological Association that time-outs work best when they are brief and immediate. More important than a time-out, he says, is time-in: the time parents spend modeling and praising appropriate behavior.

But Susan Stiffelman, a family therapist and author of “Parenting Without Power Struggles,” says a time-out isn’t the best approach.

“Sending an out-of-control child, who’s lost his center, to his room to

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