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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Time Out

Probably the most widely used form of discipline for toddlers and preschoolers is "time out".  The idea behind it is simple...your child sits in a corner or in his room or wherever, until he is in control and ready to behave.  In practice, it isn't quite so straightforward.  Some children are so sensitive, just the idea of going to time out can make them break down into tears.  Some think it's a big joke.  Some kick and scream the whole time.  But the idea behind having a place for your child to get in control is still the best option you have.  Spanking is not acceptable.  Trying to reason with him is futile.  Ignoring bad behavior can make it worse.   So, how do you make it work?

As I have said before and will probably say again, consistency is the most important thing you can do to make time out work for you.  One warning is enough.  If you tell your child you are going to put her in time out if she continues ---, and she continues, put her in time out.  No more reminders.  No threats.  Just do it.   Calmly escort her (or carry her) to the designated place and tell her she's there because she did ---.  If she jumps off the chair and runs away, calmly bring her back and tell her the same thing.  If she kicks and screams, calmly wait until she's finished.

You'll need to set a specific time for her to stay there, probably five minutes or so.  Five minutes can seem like a long time for a four year old.  I usually set the timer after he or she has finally decided that Mom means business and sits without tantrums or runs off.  Then after the time is up, it's important to give her a hug and let her know that you have confidence that she won't do --- again.  If she does it again, the process begins over.  Sure, it takes time but time spent now will be time you don't have to deal with out of control behavior later.

Childhood, especially early childhood is a time of testing for your child.  She is learning her limits and learning about cause and effect.  It doesn't have to become a power struggle if you are matter-of-fact about the whole thing and remember to be consistent in the things you say and do.


  1. I agree that consistency is of the utmost importance in parenting. Without it parents lose credibility with their kids. I am always surprised by the idle and unreasonable threats uttered by frustrated parents. But I am seriously bothered when parents take no action to effectively correct unacceptable behavior.

    The time out method can be a huge time investment for a parent; but in the long run the payoff is big!

  2. Thank you Dana! It's no wonder kids don't mind...

  3. I agree! Kids are happy to have someone who cares enough to set and follow through with limits!
    I am your newest follower...pls follow back if you can.

  4. Welcome to my little piece of the blog world! I'd love to follow your blog too! What a beautiful family you have!