Explore BrainMass

Effective use of a "time-out"

Lauren said: "I can admit that I rarely use omission with my own child. However, in the classroom setting I'm a firm believer of it. I think that it depends on the child or children that you are dealing with. Omission doesn't seem to phase my daughter. She can go without a certain thing. She'll just find something else to replace it. If I send her to her room and say no television, she'll simply lay on the bed with a book. If I take the book away, she'll pleasure herself by humming a tune. If I tell her to hush, she'll get joy from playing with her fingers, etc. There's no ending to it. "

Can you support Lauren and give her suggestions for how to use reinforcement and punishment effectively with her daughter?

Solution Preview

My first recommendation to Lauren is that she stop reinforcing her daughter's inappropriate behavior. I'm sure Lauren isn't intentionally reinforcing the behavior, and she probably isn't even aware that she's doing it. However, every time she tells her daughter, "Stop reading", "Stop humming", etc. her daughter is getting attention from Lauren. Even this little bit of attention from Lauren is positive reinforcement for the daughter.

And to make matters even more complicated, the reinforcement probably seems random to the daughter. I'm guessing that sometimes when she's sent to her room she doesn't get any attention from her mother, and other times, Mom comes in to tell her to stop doing something. Studies have shown that random positive reinforcement is more effective in encouraging a behavior than consistent ...

Solution Summary

This question is about a parent who has difficulty effectively using a "time out" for disciplining her child. In my answer, I discuss ways to give a "time-out" without unintentionally reinforcing the child's negative behaviors.