10 time-out tactics that work

If you reckon that a time-out works best to correct junior’s bad behaviour, follow these useful tips.

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When done correctly, time-outs are an effective way to let your child to connect his bad behaviour with the outcome.

More gentle than punishments and spankings, time-outs are often a preferred discipline strategy. However, you shouldn’t impose this mini-break on your mini-me when you’re angry. You can impose one, so that both you and your child will have several moments to regain control and re-enter the situation with more positive feelings.

Before you give your tyke his next time-out, keep the following pointers in mind …

1. Choose when to give a time-out

Before you give your tot a time-out, know exactly why you’re picking this form of discipline. Time-out isn’t a form of punishment but a way to stop unwanted behaviour. You’re removing your child from the location of his bad behaviour, so he can calm down, remove any negative feelings and reflect on what he did.

It lets you nip what he’s doing in the bud, while giving yourself the chance to compose yourself before taking the next step to correct his behaviour firmly and calmly. Time-out is best suited for children aged 18 months to around 4.

2. Choose the place

As most misdeeds usually happen at home, choose a quiet spot in your house that’s free of distractions. Use a step stool or a floor mat to mark the spot. If you want, you may want call it something like the “thinking chair”, the “calm corner” or the “quiet place”.

It lets you nip what he’s doing in the bud, while giving yourself the chance to compose yourself…

3. Choose the length of time

A general rule would be a maximum of one minute for each year of your child’s age. However, there is no hard and fast rule. Keeping in mind that the purpose of a time-out is to calm your child down and get him to think about his behaviour, if your 18-month-old can do this in 45 seconds, you can remove him from time-out before the minute is up.

 4. Explain what a time-out is

Describe to your child what a time-out is when you’re both in a good mood. Show him the quiet spot and tell him that’s where he will go if he doesn’t follow the rules or if he needs to calm down.

List the behaviours that may warrant a time-out ― these may include throwing a tantrum, hitting or biting a sibling, snatching toys, or throwing food.

Let him know how long a time-out is. You may want to get a ringer or a bell ― you can explain that he’ll stay there till the bell sounds.

5. Apply immediately, follow through and be consistent

If a rule is broken, take your child to the quiet spot right away. If you let him complete other tasks first ― such as finishing a TV show or putting away his toys ― the message can get lost. He may forget his misdeed and be confused when you impose the consequence on him.

Once you’ve told him that a specific behaviour will lead to time-outs, be consistent. Otherwise, he will not take time-outs seriously the next time, and even try to wriggle out of it.

Pick a simple phrase when telling junior to do a time-out. Click to find out how…