Parenting Q & A- Curiosity as an adopted child, Children with poor grades, Using "Time Out" effectively

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: May 27, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


I am 20 years old and was adopted as an infant. I have always wondered about why my biological parents gave me up for adoption. The people who raised me are wonderful. I was brought up in a great home, and my adoptive parents have always been there for me. I know they would feel really badly if I went searching for my real parents. However, I think it's normal to feel curious, and I would like to learn more about my real family. How can I do this without hurting my adoptive parents?


Your "real family" is the caring parents who raised you. Frankly, I have a hard time understanding your curiosity. It sounds like you've been extremely well taken care of by loving, caring, and wonderful people who are really your parents. I am not sure that satisfying your curiosity is worth the hurt that you might cause them.


My son is in second grade, and I have warned him throughout the year that I wouldn't let him go on to third grade if he didn't do better in school. He gets Ds and Cs, but I think he is capable of much better work. I am not sure if holding him back is really the solution, but I feel like I have to follow through with my threat. Any suggestions?


Children should not be retained as a punishment for poor performance. You made a mistake in telling him that he would be held back in second grade, but you shouldn't compound that mistake by following through with retention. Get some advice from his classroom teacher, and consider having your son evaluated by the school psychologist. He may have some type of learning problem, or need special tutoring to help him function at grade level. Unless the classroom teacher and psychologist indicate that retention is appropriate, let him move on to the third grade. If his poor performance is the result of his lack of effort, there are other consequences you can apply, such as restriction from TV or computer. You also might consider a reward system to encourage good school performance. Your son's teacher or school psychologist can be very helpful in setting up such systems.


"Time out" isn't working for my 4-year-old daughter. I make her sit in the corner for four or five minutes, but she screams and yells the entire time. When I let her out of "time out," she will frequently repeat the same behavior that got her punished. Am I doing something wrong?


Your daughter should remain in "time out" until she is quiet for about five minutes. If she starts yelling and screaming during that time, simply remind her that she must remain quiet for five minutes before she is allowed to come out. "Time out" can be an effective punishment technique if combined with other procedures, such as praise for positive behavior. For example, if you are using "time out" to deal with aggression, be sure that you praise and verbally reward her positive interactions with other children. Finally, the key to "time out" as with any reward or punishment is consistency. Be sure that you are using "time out" for a specific behavior, and that you consistently use "time out" whenever specific misbehavior occurs.

Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


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