All About Time-Outs

The whys and hows of executing an effective time-out.

What Is a Time-Out?

If you're the parent of a toddler or preschooler, chances are that time-out is one of your frequent discipline strategies. And if you're like many parents, you may lament that it doesn't really work. Time-out is misunderstood and misused, but used correctly, it can be an effective tool to change behavior, according to Dana Chidekel, PhD, author of Parents in Charge (Simon & Schuster). Here's how to do it right.

Time-out is a term from sports and it's meant to be used in the same way, says Chidekel. The coach doesn't wait until the game is lost to call a time-out. He uses it as an opportunity for the team to regroup and get back into balance before everything falls apart. That's how parents should think of it--as a way for their child to regain equilibrium before he falls apart. The goal is to help children learn to regulate their own behavior.

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