Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Beth Grosshans provides assessments and interventions to individuals of all ages, including couples and families. Aside from her practice, Dr. Beth Grosshans serves as a private consultant to teachers regarding child development issues. One area of professional interest about which she is passionate is alternatives to timeouts for children.
Although timeouts are better than spanking, they are known as just another form of punishment by humiliation. Emotion coaching and prevention are positive alternatives.
In addition to coaching your child through his or her feelings, it’s critical for you, the parent, to manage your emotions, as doing so can calm rather than ignite an emotional storm. Since timeouts for a child’s meltdown can trigger abandonment panic, they are actually considered to be destructive.
Rather than subjecting your child to a timeout, try a time-in. This method is effective for helping your child calm down and work through his or her emotions with you. If a time-in means cuddling with your child and/or reading a book because he or she is over-tired, that’s fine. Even if your child is about to have a meltdown, let him or her know you are there to help and that he or she is safe.
After many years as a child psychologist, Dr. Beth Grosshans wrote the popular parenting book Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm. A major aspect of Beth Grosshans’ theory is that unruly children often suffer from what she calls an imbalance of family power, or IFP.
Difficult children who fight with their parents on a range of issues, from toileting to sleeping independently and causing trouble at mealtime, may indicate that the family has IFP. The general rule is that family life should be peaceful about 70 percent of the time; any less than that indicates a larger issue.
With IFP, the children have too much power. They cannot see their parents as authority figures, and parents often respond by becoming unruly and throwing tantrums themselves. Many children try tactics to get their own way, and when these tactics work, they use them often.
It’s natural for children to test out family boundaries. When the boundaries break too easily, however, children start to gain power and authority, taking on a leadership role that can lead to a great amount of anxiety. Children do not, of course, yet have the capacity to manage such responsibility in their lives, and badly need their parents to act as leaders and authority figures. Addressing the issue of IFP can help many families right the balance of power and develop a peaceful home environment.
Dr. Beth Grosshans is a retired licensed clinical psychologist with a PhD in clinical child psychology from the Ohio State University. Beth Grosshans is working to update her 2008 book, Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm on parenting unruly children.
The thesis of the book is that many unruly children misbehave because children have far too much power in the family relationship. The advice of many parenting experts over the past 40 years or so, the book suggests, have made parents feel intimidated about disciplining their children.
Children need to know that parents are authority figures, the book argues, and though it can be uncomfortable, they must find ways to discipline their children gently and responsibly. When parents can do so, children will quickly calm down, relieved of the responsibility of too much power and able to trust her parents as authority figures.
One of the tools Beyond Time Out offers is the idea of the Ladder To Effectiveness. There are five steps, or rungs, to the ladder that parents can climb one at a time. Parents only need to go as high on the ladder as necessary to find compliance in the child. This technique teaches children in an action-based context, helping them to learn important lessons of self-control and cooperation, and thus restore the balance of power in the family.
A licensed clinical psychologist with over two decades of experience in working with families, Dr. Beth Grosshans is the author of Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm. Published in 2008, the book serves as a guide for parents to take back their power in the parent-child relationship to help eliminate problematic behaviors. One issue that Dr. Beth Grosshans addresses in the book is sleep deprivation, which can greatly affect a child’s behavior.
Sufficient sleep is vital for people of all ages, but children need far more sleep than adults because their bodies are growing and their brains are maturing. Studies reveal that children who miss out on just 30 to 60 minutes of their necessary nightly sleep time can exhibit behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, moodiness, and irritability. They can also have difficulties concentrating and paying attention in school.
Parents often find that enforcing bedtimes can minimize a number of behavior and discipline problems both at home and at school, and they can consult with their children’s pediatrician to find out how many hours of sleep are appropriate. Generally speaking, if the child has trouble waking up in the morning or feels sleepy during the day, he or she needs more sleep. The same holds true for children who sleep more on weekends and holidays in an attempt to “catch up.” A bit of trial and error, as well as observing positive changes in behavior and moods along the way, can help parents find the magic number of sleep hours required, which will change as the child grows and matures.