While each family handles discipline differently, one mom on Reddit shared her family’s particularly unique approach: Her kids have the power to put their parents in timeout.
Redditor Savorthemoon wrote that her family takes a “timeout is for everybody” approach to behavior and discipline.
“Tonight my 3-year-old sent my husband to timeout for not using his listening ears,” she said. “He was so proud to be in control of the timer and gave [my] husband the biggest hug when his time was up.”
While this practice might be considered nontraditional, Savorthemoon shared that the approach has worked well.
“Ever since instating a policy where everyone is eligible for timeout (parents, baby, toddler), my 3-year-old seems to deal with punishment [and] timeout much better,” she said.
She also added that being sent to timeout as a parent has an added bonus of scoring coveted me-time.
“Being sent to timeout as a parent means getting five minutes of alone time for myself,” she wrote.
The Reddit post racked up over a thousand upvotes, and garnered comments of interest and support.
“I love this,” wrote one Redditor. “You are teaching your child that adults make mistakes and own up for their mistakes, too.”
“This is wonderful,” added another. “It’s a time for everyone to take a breath, relax and try again.”
While “timeout is for everybody” seems to be working well for Savorthemoon’s family, other parents might wonder if this technique would work for them or not.
Like many aspects of parenting, there’s no one correct way to approach discipline. However, time-outs can be beneficial for some children, so long as they’re done in the right way and in the right situation.
Dr. Syeda Amna Husain, M.D., fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, thinks the family-wide approach to time-outs is a thoughtful practice.
“You have to explain the reasons behind your rules, which means that you have to not only enforce your rules, but also follow them yourself,” she says.
Kevin Petersen, a licensed marriage and family therapist, agrees that this Redditor’s approach sets a foundation for family respect.
“Accountability is good for everybody, not just the kids. And the best way to show that is to model that,” Petersen says. “Parents have a right to set the rules, but they also have a responsibility of adhering to the rules and to be consistent, transparent and accountable.”
Dr. Courtney Bolton, Ph.D., a psychologist and parenting and child development expert, agrees that parents need to set the rules, but doesn’t recommend the “timeout is for everybody” technique.
“While this approach may seem novel initially to the child, it puts an unfair burden on them to 'police' parents and siblings as well as open doors for uncomfortable situations — what happens when friends, grandparents, in-laws, extended family visit? Are they all subject to being put in time-out?”
Dr. Husain agrees that the approach might not work for everybody, adding that age is an important factor to consider.
“I can see this tactic working depending on the age,” she says. “For a young child it may be difficult for them to realize that adults are ultimately in charge. But in a school-age child, these positive discipline strategies can help our children become more comfortable expressing their opinions.”
No matter what approach you take, remember that the focus shouldn't be about the consequences — it’s about helping your child grow.
“Punishment isn’t about retribution or shame,” says Susan Harrington, a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist. “It’s about helping our children learn from their mistakes to become a better person for the future – even if they do not completely understand it all at the moment.”
Overall, there’s not one magic disciplinary technique that is best for every child. While time-outs for kids — or for the whole family — can be beneficial for some, they don't work for every situation.