How to Give Time-Outs That Really Work

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


I'm Dr. Ari Brown. Many parents have questions about time-out. So, let's talk about it. Call it the naughty chair, the penalty box or solitary confinement. Time-out is a tried and true discipline technique that really works if it's done correctly and consistently. Just like any other method, it has to be used several times to make an impact. Here are the top seven questions I'm often asked. Number one: What is time-out? Time-out is time away from you and that is the most severe punishment you can dish out. Kids crave attention from their parents, so losing it is a big deal. Using time-out signals that the offense is serious. Time-out also gives a child time to think and collect himself. Number two: When should time-out be used? Some parents worry that their child will spend all day in time-out. Time-out is reserved for absolutely unacceptable behavior. That means something that will endanger your child or someone else. There are other methods that work well for ugly, less serious offenses. Number three: Where should it happen? Time-out doesn't have to be in the naughty chair or sitting in the corner. It is anywhere that is away from you. Your child just needs to be in some place where he cannot get hurt if he throws a fit which he probably will. A younger child can sit on your lap facing away from you or you can put yourself in time-out and go into your bedroom. If your child is in a safe place, don't worry about it. No matter how you do it, the point is, you need to disengage from your child. Number four: What if your child won't stay in one place? Well, your child's age, size and strength will guide you on how to manage this one. Since it is only for a few minutes, you can secure the door of the room that he's in so he stays put. Another option is for you to stay in the room with your child and let him roam freely, as long as you don't pay attention to him. Number five: How long does time-out last? Put your child in time-out for one minute for each year of age. What if she has a tantrum? Once the time has ended, tell your child the time-out is over but she can take as much time as needs to settle down with freedom to leave at any time. And by the way, temper tantrums in general are a way for child to blow off steam and they shouldn't be a reason for her to get a time-out. Don't respond, just ignore it. If you respond to a tantrum, it will become an effective form of communication for her because she knows it will get your attention. Just make sure your child is in a safe place to let loose. Number six: What if your child doesn't seem to care about time-out? Believe me, she does. Don't let her fool you. Like any discipline method, it can take several times to see an improvement in behavior. Kids will test the rules to see if they can wear you down. Just be consistent about enforcing time-out and you will eventually see progress. Number seven: What do you do if you're in a public place? Follow through and don't wait to do a time-out later. Of course, you may have to get pretty creative. Stepping outside using a public restroom or even going out to your car are reasonable time-out options. Good luck.

You Might Also Like