7 Ways to Make Time-outs Work with Your Children ...


If you want to find ways to make time-outs work with your children, there is help for you in this article. Time-outs can be an effective way to discipline a child but there are certain things you need to do to achieve that. You can’t simply announce your child is having a time-out without establishing some ground rules and a procedure for how this should be done. Follow these ways to make time-outs work with your children and you will find them much more effective.

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Explain What You Expect

First up on the list of ways to make time-outs work with your children is to explain what you expect. Tell them that you expect them to sit down for a certain length of time. Explain they are not allowed to get up or talk to anyone during that time. Let them know this was because they made a poor choice. Speak as if you expect them to obey you and they will be much more likely to do so.


Sit by Them if Necessary

When you are dealing with a small child, such as one under the age of three or four, it may be necessary to sit beside them during their time out. The purpose of that is to make sure they remain where you placed them. When you start using time-outs with children, you have to teach them what that means. Sitting by them is part of that. This way, when they start to get up you can remind them that they are in time-out and have to sit where you instructed them to.


Explain What You Want Them to Think about and Why

Part of making sure that time-outs work with your children is explaining why they are in trouble. Sometimes we take for granted that our children already know this but it is important to explain where they went wrong. Tell them clearly the reason they are going to have a time-out. It is also a good idea to tell them that you want them to think about why their choice was wrong while they are in time-out. Tell them you want them to think about what they should have done instead.


Set a Timer

It is a good idea to set a time when you are giving your child time-out. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, it lets your child know their time is limited in time-out so they don’t feel hopeless and spend their time in time-out wondering how long they will be sitting there instead of what they should be thinking about. Secondly, it makes sure that you don’t forget you have placed them in time-out and yes, that can happen as most seasoned parents will attest to. A good rule to follow is one minute per year of age.


Talk with Them Afterwards

This is part two of a time-out. You need to go back and talk with your child when their time-out is over. Ask them what they thought about and what a better choice would have been. I know that this is difficult and takes time. I know that the day of a mom is already overrun with responsibilities. But if you want your time-out to truly make a difference, this step is key.


Don’t Overuse Them

Time-outs should be something used sparingly, like most discipline. If you want them to really have an impact, you cannot use them ten times a day. There will be times you need to use them more often, such as when your child is really small and still learning rules and what their parents will and won’t tolerate. But time-outs will lose their effectiveness if overused. Your child will eventually get to the point where they think time-outs are no big deal if you overuse them.


Have a Certain Spot for Time-outs

It is best to have a certain spot for time-outs. This helps both you and your child. You don’t have to think of where to place them and they know exactly where to go. It should be in a room that is pretty boring and there are no distractions such as TV or their toys. There are time-out rugs and benches you can purchase for use during a time-out.

Time-outs can help you tremendously when it comes to discipline with your child. What hints and tips have you used to make time-out work in your family? Please share with us.

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Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

poe babby

I love the comment above! Very smart woman! But since I am still technically a "kid", I can say that time outs DO work. I had teachers that told us to "sit and think about what we did"... And most of us didn't do it again because we knew there's consequences. Then, when we got to high school, teachers didn't do "time outs" and some kids just kept doing certain things over and over again. So yes, time outs can be a good thing.

Maybe this is my social work background and experience in different parenting theories, but time outs do not have any positive affects on a child's future. Time ins are more important. Children and too young to be able to think about all possible outcomes of bad behavior without guidance and help from the adult. During a time in, the parent and child sit together to discuss what has happened. During a time out the child is just waiting for it to be over not accomplishing anything. Time outs are for the parents to have cool down time. You can say, "mommy needs a cool down time so I am going to read (or do dishes or what ever) for a bit, while I cool down can you go play and I'll get you when I'm ready?" Why should your child need to sit alone because your frustrated? Your child needs help organizing their feelings and needs comfort to understand possible outcomes.

You didn't do it again because you didn't want to sit alone. Not because you learned the consequences of bad actions :)

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