Thursday, December 28, 2017
Some argue against the use of Time Out discipline strategies despite scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Some criticisms of time out are justified. Discipline with Respect involves a commitment to a long-term loving parent-child relationship.
Used correctly, time out is a brief time away from a pleasant activity as a consequence for a child’s unacceptable socially aggresive or destructive behavior. In Discipline with Respect and other programs, parents and educators learn that time out is one of many strategies to help children learn to follow basic rules in home and school settings. The emphasis in Discipline with Respect and other parenting programs is always on creating a positive setting where children are encouraged to be a part of family and peer activities sometimes referred to as “time in.”
Parents and teachers explain time out in advance so children understand the purpose of a brief time away from activities and where they will spend that short period of time. It is best not to discuss the time out procedure or the problem behavior with a child who has not responded to a warning. Discussions can lead to escalation. Discussing the misbehavior can occur after the time out consequence if there is doubt the child does not see the connection between the aggressive behavior and the time out consequence.
Most time out guidelines suggest using about one minute in time out per year of age so 5-minutes for a child age 5 and 10 minutes for a ten-year-old.
Time out is more effective when children are in a chair or sitting on a mat away from the activity where they misbehaved. Time out is more effective when children are not playing with toys or doing other fun activities.
Time out is more effective when children calm briefly before they return to their previous activities.
Encourage positive interactions when the child returns to their activities.
Researchers find time out helps reduce both physical and verbal aggression and destructive behavior in many settings. Again, time out is only one strategy and should be used in the context of an overall positive program. Like other strategies, time out will not always be effective with every child.
Time out is not a strategy for every type of misbehavior. The focus of research is on using time out to interrupt aggressive and destructive behavior, which is often accompanied by anger. The risk of not using time out or other effective strategies is that children will continue to be aggressive as they grow older. Some may be concerned about repressing anger but that concern is not supported by evidence. Parents and teachers can teach the appropriate way to express anger within their culture—for example, using words and taking constructive action.
Some parenting sources advocate holding aggressive children but this is controversial. Parents and other care givers find it difficult to safely and effectively hold aggressive children.
Those who focus only on positive approaches to discipline help engender an attitude of respect. However, most find that effective discipline needs to include consequences for severe misbehavior. For an academic review of research on time out, see the Morawska and Sanders (2011) reference.
Morawska, A., & Sanders, M. (2011). Parental use of time out revisited: A useful or harmful parenting strategy?. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(1), 1-8. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9371-x
Shriver, M. D., & Allen, K. D. (1996). The time-out grid: A guide to effective discipline. School Psychology Quarterly, 11(1), 67-75. doi:10.1037/h0088921
Sutton, G. W. (2018). Discipline with Respect in Caring Relationships. Sunflower Press. Available from Amazon.
Discipline with Respect Website
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers some forms of video gaming to be an unhealthy condition. The problem lies in "persistent or recurrent" patterns of gaming and has the following three features (U S News, 2017):
"1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."
Like other disorders, the condition needs to be severe, which is usually defined by duration-- in this case, 12 months. Severity also requires an evaluation of how much gaming interferes with other aspects of life--personal, family, social, education, occupational and so forth. Clinicians have some flexibility on the 12 month criterion when they think a condition is particularly severe.
Clearly, not everyone who plays a lot of video games has severe problems. Psychologists and psychiatrists avoid using terms like "addiction" because they are too vague and may suggest physiological dependence. But mental health clinicians do see youth and adults who spend so much time gaming that they have little time for relationships and other important aspects of life.
One US study of 1,178 youth ages 8 to 18 found that 8% had "pathological patterns" of gaming, which affected school performance (Gentile, 2009).
From a scientific perspective, psychological scientists have found a small and reliable link between using violent video games and aggressive behavior such as pushing and yelling. Studies do not support a link to more violent acts.
“Attributing violence to video gaming is not scientifically sound and draws attention away from other factors, such as a history of violence, which we know from the research is a major predictor of future violence.”(See link for more APA 2020)
Several aspects of video games can influence child behavior. In Discipline with Respect, I identify two major areas for parents to consider when it comes to gaming and similar conditions. One potential problem is the role-model effect. That is, role models within video sources and those who model any undesirable behavior can influence children and youth (Chapter 3 ). Older siblings are often effective role models. The other problem with excessive gaming and similar activities is one of creating an unproductive or irresponsible "lifestyle," which I discuss in chapter 8 about the principle of substitution and the need to set boundaries.
Discipline with Respect is available in digital and paperback formats from AMAZON.
Here's the link to the website Discipline with Respect.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017
It is hard to fault educators and schools for jumping on the learning style train, which seemed to be heading in the right direction. It just made sense. Everyone knows children are different. Some are great at drawing. Some can see a diagram and quickly construct a model. Others seem to have an intuitive grasp of mathematics. Still other children have a gift with words and the verbal concepts, which may be analyzed in-depth. But the scientific evidence for learning styles is not there.
Four scientists were engaged to study the widespread practice of teaching by emphasizing learning styles. They published their findings in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
The idea of learning styles generally means that children learn better when teachers match their mode of instruction to the child's learning style. The idea is that children may learn best by emphasizing some specific auditory, visual, or kinesthetic modality. Schools can evaluate a child's learning style then match a teaching style to a learning style. Thus the idea of learning styles also includes an idea about assessment. That is, a belief that it is possible to use a set of questions to determine a child's learning style. For example, if a child is a visual learner then the child will learn best when instructions are presented visually.
Fortunately, Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork reviewed the research and published the summary I mentioned above. Despite a comprehensive review, they did not find evidence supporting the value of teaching according to supposed learning styles.
Some Details About Learning Styles
There is reasonable evidence that people, including children, have different intellectual strengths or abilities. We have some 80 years of evidence identifying different abilities. And there is evidence that these abilities are usually intercorrelated suggesting an overall general ability. But this correlation does not undermine the evidence for distinct patterns of strength. For example, some have greater verbal abilities than quantitative abilities. But here's the rub. Having different abilities does not mean people learn differently or that different teaching styles are required for those with different abilities to learn the same concepts.
Different Teaching Methods
If the learning styles idea is a good one then there ought to be an interaction such that visual learners would excel using teaching methods matched to their visual style and auditory learners ought to learn best when taught using an auditory teaching method. You can imagine the converse. You would not expect great results if you taught visual learners using auditory teaching methods. Unfortunately, as sensible as this teaching-learning style match sounds, the research does not support the idea.
Different Personality Factors
An interesting aside is a finding that the personality dimension called locus-of-control seems to be relevant to learning. Those with a high external locus of control do better with highly structured learning activities and those with high inner locus of control do better with less structured learning activities. Locus of control refers to core beliefs about how much a person controls their life outcomes. Those with a higher inner locus of control have a strong belief in their responsibility for the consequences of their actions. The science behind locus of control is based on work by Rotter (1966).
Different Content Requires Different Teaching
Although beliefs in learning styles and beliefs about matching teaching to learning styles lacks supportive evidence, we should not confuse these beliefs with beliefs about teaching different content.
Let's be clear. If you want to teach a child to solve a geometry problem you will use verbal instructions and visual materials rather than rely on speech or text alone. If telling a child to hang up her clothes when she gets home from school does not work (i.e., has not been learned) then you might want to try another approach for behavioral learning such as having her perform the task while you provide feedback. Similarly, teaching children how to pass a soccer ball is best done on a field rather than by showing a video.
We do, however, need research on matching different teaching methods to different content.
In Discipline with Respect, I focus on ways to help children learn respectful behavior that will help them become responsible adults. My point in taking up the topic of learning styles in this blog is to help parents and teachers avoid mythology surrounding the education of children. Discipline is education. Different discipline methods work with different children. But for most parents, discipline strategies based on solid principles will work with most children. As with learning in school, learning behavior will sometimes require specialized instruction.
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Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9, 106-119.
Rotter, J.B. (1966). Generalized expectancies of internal versus external control of reinforcements. Psychological Monographs, 80, (Whole no. 609).
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