Arthur Stats died at 97; Called ‘time out’ for unruly children

Literary references to unruly children being grounded resonate from at least the early 19th century, when in the 1835 novel “Home” by Katherine Sedgwick the father “goes to his room” after his son Wallace snarls a cat. Strictly ordered.

Such exile was later represented by Swedish artist Karl Larsson’s 1894 watercolor “Naughty Corner” Picture of a sad little boy lying on a chair in the living room.

In the late 1950s, shortly after the birth of his daughter, Jennifer, Arthur W. Stats turned more or less random parental punishment into a staple of behavioral psychology and a household phrase. He called it “time out”.

Extensive experiments conducted by Dr. Staats (rhymes with “spots”) and colleagues found that removing a child from the scene of inappropriate behavior, and whatever provoked it, established an emotional connection with self-control. And the punishment was better. As a bonus, it gave frustrated parents a short break.

Dr. Stats emphasized that children should be warned in advance of the consequences of their behavior, and that the “time out” strategy should be applied consistently and within the context of a positive parent-child relationship. should be done. He advised that the time out period (usually five to 15 minutes) should end when the child stopped misbehaving (for example, having a tantrum).

Dr. Stats died on April 26 at the age of 97 at his home in Oahu, Hawaii. His son, Dr. Peter S. Stats said the cause was heart failure.

Initially, Arthur Stats experimented with time out on both of his children. “My sister and I were trained with the timeout procedure invented by my father in the late 1950s,” Dr. Peter Staats wrote johns hopkins magazine Last year.

His sister, Dr. Jennifer Kelly, put her own twist on developing the procedure. “A few years ago,” she said in an email, “my brother joked that I was so bad that my dad had to take time off.”

In 1962, when Jennifer was 2 years old, Dr. Stats told Child magazine: “I would put her in her crib and indicate that she would stay there until she stopped crying. If we were in a public place, Had I been there, I would have picked him up and went out.

He also experimented with preschool learning, teaching his daughter to read before the age of 3, and inventing a “token reinforcement” system: a device that she used to design small markers that could be saved and later used as toys. and could be exchanged for other prizes.

Peter founded the Department of Pain Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and Jennifer became a child and adolescent psychiatrist who may have been a measure of her father’s success.

The elder Dr. Staats described his approach as Psychological Behaviorism and Cognitive Behavioral Psychology. His approach to emotional development and learning was so different that in 2006, Child magazine named him one of “20 People Who Changed Childhood”.

The journal American Pediatrics reported in 2017 that a recent survey found that 77 percent of parents of children between the ages of 15 months and 10 were dependent on moderate behaviors out of time.

Montrose M. Wolf, one of Dr. Stats’ graduate assistants, described the process in a 1964 study, and Dr. Stats described it in detail in the book “Learning, Language and Cognition” published in 1968.

He was considered one of a handful of pioneers in behavior modification. As he writes in his book “Marvel’s Learning Animals” (2012), “Our small group provided the foundation for the fields of behavior therapy and behavior analysis.”

While much research has focused on how chemistry and physiology differ brain affects behavior and the ability to read and write, Dr. Stats argued that more study was needed on how learning and a child’s environment had a role in causing those differences.

His experiments, he wrote, demonstrated that “children have a variety of explicit problem behaviors that can be treated by explicit training”—that dyslexic children can be trained to read and improve a child’s IQ. can be done. The research, he insisted, is “irrefutable evidence of the tremendous power of learning to determine human behavior.”

Arthur Wilbur Stats was born on January 17, 1924, in Greenburg, NY, in Westchester County, to Frank Stats, a carpenter, and Jennifer (Yolis) Stats, a Jewish immigrant from Russia. His father died when he was 3 months old, just days after the family landed in Los Angeles after traveling west from the East Coast via the Panama Canal. Their mother supported the couple’s four children by doing laundry for the neighbours.

Arthur was an indifferent student, devoting himself primarily to sports and reading for pleasure. He dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to join the Navy and served on the battleship Nevada during the D-Day invasion. After the war he enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles under the GI Bill.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1949, a master’s degree in psychology in 1953, and a doctorate in general experimental and clinical psychology in 1956.

After teaching as a professor of psychology at Arizona State University and a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin, he was hired by the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1966. He was Professor of Psychology there until retiring in 1997 and was named Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Stats married Carolyn Caden, a fellow doctoral student at UCLA. They collaborated on the book “Complex Human Behavior: A Systematic Extension of Learning Principles” (2011). Apart from her son and daughter, she is survived by five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Dr. Stats’ legacy was reflected in the license plate of his silver BMW – TYM-Out – as well as the behavior of his great-granddaughter.

“We have two, ages 6 and 3, and they are really wonderful little girls,” Dr. Kelly said of her grandchildren. “The little one is very funny. When she does something wrong, she gives herself a time out. I think she saw her sister time out, so she wondered how it worked.”

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