Friday, April 26, 2013

Article on timeouts

I came across this article about the use of timeouts. It is geared for parents of preschool children and not exactly related to homework problems. But there are some general principles about punishment and reward that apply and are found in my book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students, and Teachers.

Here is a link to the article, and here is what I posted as a comment to the article.

Good article. I'd like to add that the central component of a good consequence is that "it works," and that we know it works because we don't have to use it again (or very often). Consequences that are repeated without success reinforce strategies to get around the consequence, which is usually more "bad behavior." This article points to the need for the expected behavior to be age appropriate, i.e. possible for the child, and that is absolutely true. In my own work, I've focused on older children and homework compliance and have highlighted how repetitive, unrelenting penalties, i.e. low grades, reinforce acting out. They are based on the misguided notion that the child can do the work (at least in a reasonable amount of time). And just as we have to understand what the child is able to do, we also need to understand what the parent is able to do. Some parents are good at using timeouts and some are not, and that's okay -- we're all different. Just keep in mind that if you are repeating a penalty without results, stop and step back before doing it again.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. 


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