Dear Ms. Demeanor: Are hallway time-outs acceptable?

By Teri Karush Rogers | March 24, 2010 - 10:03AM 
Ms. Demeanor .jpg

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

My neighbors have six boisterous children who for the most part seem happy, clean and well loved.

However, they often punish one or more disobedient child by exiling them into our common hallway.

Usually in the throes of a temper tantrum, they wail, lay flat out on the floor kicking, bang on the locked front door and scream for what seems to be an eternity, though it is usually no longer than a few minutes.

Maybe I’m crazy, but should the common hall of an apartment be used as a “time out” zone for children?


Other People’s Children – Not My Problem

Dear Other People’s Children:

Common areas in apartment buildings are designed to be used equally by all the residents.

But were you to consider hosting a cocktail party in your hallway, or meet with your trusts and estates attorney on the front steps of your building, I would suggest that perhaps the dosage of your anti-anxiety medication might need an adjustment.

Your neighbors are using an innovative approach to what must be a problem of too many people in too little space, but that does not make it acceptable.

Should they wish to punish the miscreants by confining them, a bathroom should do the trick – and as there is water and access to the facilities, the prisoner is not subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

If you wish to maintain a somewhat cordial relationship with the family next door, try the avuncular approach. Invite them over, hand them a glass of wine to soften the blow, and explain that you are worried about the safety of their precious offspring when they are bouncing off the walls in the hall.

Alternatively, the next time one of the rug rats is banished, hand the child a lollipop and inquire loudly, “Are you okay, little boy? Would you like me to place a call to Child Protective Services?”

Then mix yourself a very dry martini and retreat to the quiet that is sure to ensue.

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