To Send or Not to Send a Child to Their Room

When I was young I was brought up fairly strictly. There wasn’t any room for manoeuvre. My parents spoke, I listened. They asked me to do something, I did it instantly. If on the rare occasions I didn’t, there was punishment. There wasn’t though any of the ‘sending to my room stuff’. At the time I didn’t notice, it was only when my children came along and started testing my patience that I had to think back to my childhood and how my parents disciplined me.

So what did I do as a new mum faced with a new hurdle? Just like most I phoned my mum for advice. My mother explained why she never sent me to my room and it’s something I have grown to believe in myself.

I never sent you to your room as it was your bedroom. For one it was filled with all you toys, teddies and other things you loved. It wouldn’t be punishment to sit in a room full of toys.

Secondly it was the place you slept. We worked hard on getting you into a proper night time routine and sleeping through the night. If I sent you to your room when I was angry you might start associating your room with anger. That wouldn’t equate into a good night’s sleep.

Lastly it was your room. Apart from the odd time I asked you to tidy your room for health and safety reasons, we always said a bedroom is a personal space for you to do with as you want. Somewhere you feel safe, happy and secure. It the place where you could really relax and be yourself. As parents we believed it wasn’t to be used as a place you went to when you or I was angry.

So what do you think? Should a child be sent to their room when their behaviour isn’t acceptable?


  1. says

    I completely agree with your mum and had that as my view even before I clicked on the post to read it in full. A child should have a reflective area (ours has always been the bottom step of the stair) and you should work out your own “time out” methods.

    It is very noticeable at the moment that respect for adults is on the downturn but then we have to work out who (or what) is to blame for that and work with our own children to rectify it – sort of lead by example.

    • Confessions of a single mum says

      Your right, long gone are the days when children feared and respected parents just because they were parents. But I do think we muddy the waters with wanting to be our children’s friend. How can we be their friend and have authority over them too. I don’t mean though we cant be there for our children but as parents we sometimes have to remember who the adult actually is.

  2. Jane says

    It is probably never a good idea to advocate sending a child to their bedroom as punishment for the reasons discussed above, with all of which I agree.
    Similarly, sometimes parents also send a child to their room when the child is in distress / in a mood / angry / disagreeable. The child is expected to ‘calm down’, ‘get over it’ or the suchlike, modifying their behaviour to be ‘more acceptable’ before being allowed back into the family rooms.
    I speak from experience. As a child I was very emotional, sometimes behaving badly, and my parents way of dealing with this was to send me to my room telling me, ‘I/we don’t want to see you again until you can behave yourself’. I was never given understanding or the opportunity to talk things through with my parents and I was never given emotional support for the ways I was feeling. As a result I never managed to ‘deal with my demons’ [so to speak, I do not refer to any religious aspect]. As an adult [I am in my 50s] it has left me emotionally crippled and psychologically damaged, suffering from severe depression. When faced with situations which elicit a strong emotional response, I now automatically ‘lock myself away’ into a deep depressive state, replicating being shut away in my room when a child and adolescent, which may now last for days or weeks at a time.
    I would advocate a variety of responses to challenging behaviour/emotions in children, but possibly the essential parenting skills are those of positive rewards for good behaviour, which may be as simple as a smile, an encouraging word or a hug and, secondly, understanding and support when the child exhibits difficult behaviour founded on emotions that they do not yet understand or know how to deal with. Nurturing is so vitally important.

  3. says

    Your post interested me as I am both a single mum and work as a family support worker and as such I deal with challenging behaviour from children both at home and at work. I have never sent my children to their room for bad behaviour, and never recommend anyone does for the exact reasons you state. I do however, think that a child being sent to their room to calm down is a very important way of teaching children how to put their emotions across. I notice your comment from Jane and she will probably disagree, but I don’t mean that by sending your child to their room they learm how to deal with their emotions. What I mean is, it is very important to teach children how to deal with anger, frustration and being upset – but when a child cannot control their actyions and words because of their feelings then they need to be able to calm down. As an adult I count to ten, take some deep breaths and if appropriate walk away when I get angry because then I can calm down and think about how to verbalise my feelings appropriately. As a child we need to teach them how to calm down (going to their room but not as a punishment – it’s ok to be angry, but take yourself away from it before your actions get you into trouble), and then once calm, it is VERY important the child still has their voice and is able to explain in words verbally or written, or through drawing, why they were angry etc. So as such I think there is a place for being sent to their room but only where this teaches them their room is a safe place to calm down, where they will not be disturbed – I hope that makes sense!! Time out should be somewhere boring and also has its place – kids rooms aren’t boring!!! Hope I’ve made some sense there!!

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