Ask the Experts

Unfair Punishment? Pushing Back Against Too Many Timeouts

“My son’s teacher denies him recess and gives him lots of timeouts because he acts up. My son needs recess to refresh his brain, and all the timeouts make him feel like a bad kid. What can I do?”

You don’t say whether your son has a Section 504 Plan or an IEP. Either of these requires your son’s school to consider the cause of any behaviors that interfere with his school day through a “functional behavioral assessment.” If his behavior is determined to be the result of ADHD, the school has to put in place a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). These plans are not designed to be punitive. They are intended to address his difficult behaviors, using positive reinforcement whenever possible.

If he does have a 504 Plan or an IEP, convene a meeting of the 504/IEP team and raise your concerns about how his teacher addresses his behavioral problems. If he does not have an IEP or 504 Plan (or has one that does not address his behavior), have him (re)evaluated, and be sure that this evaluation includes a behavioral assessment. Students with ADHD require breaks to recharge during the day.