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A new bench with a bronze statue of a little girl in a “time out” was installed on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus this summer, honoring the UH professor who created the concept, which has been popular with parents for decades now.

Staats standing next to car showing time out license plate
Staats’ car license plate alluded to his legacy. (Photo courtesy: Jennifer Staats Kelley)

Arthur W. Staats (rhymes with “spots”) was a professor in UH Mānoa’s Department of Psychology in the College of Social Sciences from 1966 to 1997 and devoted his career to understanding complex human behavior. He was named professor emeritus after he retired, and died in 2021 at the age of 97.

The “Child in Time Out” bench is located between Dean Hall and Gartley Hall with a statue of a child sitting on it with her hands cupped to her face, representing the concept developed by Staats in 1958. The bench and statue were donated by the Staats family and can be seen from Staats’ former office in Gartley Hall.

“My family and I are delighted to donate this bench in memory of my Dad and his academic achievements, and we’re also hoping that it will bring positive attention to the many academic strengths of the University of Hawaiʻi,” explained Jennifer Staats Kelley, a child psychiatrist and an alumna of UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. “He would’ve just loved that this bench is located right outside of his office window.”

“Time out” is now a popular technique used around the world, and a productive way to discipline children by briefly removing them from the parent or caregiver. The goal is to avoid inadvertently giving the child attention for undesirable behavior, while still setting limits on the inappropriate behavior. The technique prevents using other punishment tools, such as spanking or yelling, and encourages a positive relationship between parent and child.

Leaving a lasting legacy

young toddler with her father
Arthur Staats with his daughter, Jennifer, circa 1961. (Photo courtesy: Jennifer Staats Kelley)

Among the first children to experience a “time out” were Staats’ children, Jennifer and Peter, in the early 1960s. The statue of the little girl is based on a photo of Staats’ great granddaughter.

“My brother Peter and I, together with our spouses, Nancy and Chuck, were brainstorming how to help the world remember our dad and jokingly came up with the idea of putting up a time out bench on the UH Mānoa campus, and realized that it would be a fun idea,” said Kelley. “So we contacted the folks at UH and everyone loved the idea, too.”

The final installation of the memorial was a year-and-a-half long process from inception, site selection, commissioning/design/sculpting and construction, delivery and installation. UH Foundation, the UH Office of Vice President for Administration and the UH Community Design Center worked closely with Kelley and her family.

Academic accomplishments

In 2006, Staats was named one of “20 People Who Changed Childhood” (Child Magazine). He was awarded the UH Distinguished Retired Faculty Award by the College of Social Sciences and was a faculty advisor and mentor to many of his students throughout the years.

Staats group family photo
Arthur Staats with his family. (Photo courtesy: Jennifer Staats Kelley)

In addition to his practical contributions and inventions to the field, his academic accomplishments at UH include the establishment of a graduate program in human learning and setting up the department’s nationally-renowned doctoral program in clinical psychology. He developed a theoretical foundation for the application of broad conditioning and learning principles to the enhancement of human development, education and clinical psychotherapy.

“His many books and papers on these topics earned him an international reputation as one of the leading psychological scholars and social scientists of the 20th century,” said former UH psychology professor Ian M. Evans, who co-supervised some of Staats’ research students.

—By Arlene Abiang

three girls sitting on bench next to statue
Staats’ great grandchildren visit the memorial bench.
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