• David Unger PhD

Time Off For Bad Behavior



When I was a child I didn’t get time outs for bad behavior. I think the concept came along after my parents stopped managing my behavior, but truthfully they wouldn’t have utilized it. My parents had their own approach which I have found was pretty unique and had its own set of consequences. My dad was a psychiatrist who prior to my birth did a lot of reading about child rearing. Sadly, I can’t talk with him now (or did then) about his choice, but evidently he and my mother signed on to creating an atmosphere where I never ran into the word “No.”


If I was doing something that might fall under the classification of bad behavior I was either re-directed in some benign way or allowed to deal with the natural consequences of my behavior. The net result of this is I have no recollection of having parental lectures, spankings or being told what to do and what not to do. This has allowed me a lot of freedom in my life as I basically feel I can do whatever I want to do. On the downside, I’m not very skilled at being told “No” or handling critical feedback. I usually don’t seek it out and when I get it I often either get defensive or ignore it.


I am also not the best learner. In school I never actually successfully completed a full year until my college days. Initially I went to a school that was quite progressive and if I chose not to attend to something they didn’t push me. Nor did my parents. It is kind of amazing to me that I have a collection of unfulfilling report cards and never had a conversation with my parents about how I felt about it or what I could do about it. I did feel some shame at the time about my academic performance but my social life was good and that is what mattered to me. Since my parents were hands off I was left to do what I wanted.

I have yet to run into anyone who had a similar parenting style and it would be interesting to compare and contrast. Needless to say that approach has not had a big groundswell and I suspect most parents nowadays would be loathe to be so hands off. It is hard to know if I would have had a more successful and enjoyable life if they had gone another way. All I know is I’m happy with how things have turned out. Would have I liked some greater success in my life, certainly. Would it have come to me had they gone another route, I do not know. All I know is I go to bed at night happy with my day and look forward to waking up and engaging the day ahead. I see, hear and experience a lot of “Yes” and I think that would make my parents happy for me.

#BadBehavior #Parenting

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