Do “Time Outs” Really Work?
Time-out is the most popular discipline technique used by parents but does it really work? We found a great article which discusses the parenting issue of time outs by Robin McClure.
Giving your toddler a “time-out” for behaving badly seems easy enough. Remove your toddler from the situation where he is acting out, sit him in a chair or in another room, and tell him he is in “time-out” from the activity. Here are key tips to remember if using time-outs:
- Frequently discuss behavioral expectations with your child so that your toddler has a base understanding of right and wrong and consequences. Using a time-out without any prior discussions of what it means to a child may backfire on a parent. Positively remind your toddler of your expectations immediately prior to the activity.
- Use time-outs sparingly. Overuse of them for every single toddler infraction will greatly dilute their effectiveness.
- The amount of time for a time-out should be in keeping with a child’s age. Most advocates recommend using one minute per year of the youngster. Having too long of a time-out can cause young children to actually forget while they were put in one in the first place. Remember that your intent is to separate them from the action–not make them scared or panicky–so choose your time-out location carefully.
- Have a talk with your toddler when time-out is over. Reassure your child that you love her no matter what, but at the same time remind her that certain behaviors cannot be allowed. Briefly talk about how a situation could have been better handled. Don’t over-talk it either. Keep the conversation positive, loving, and to-the-point.
- Never threaten a “time-out” and then not carry it out. You are essentially making yourself an ineffective disciplinarian. Don’t give multiple chances, and don’t say “you’re going to get a time-out” if you don’t stop doing something, and then not follow through. If you say it, carry it through…even if the situation makes rendering a time-out awkward or even embarrassing. Parents around you will understand, and will probably be happy that you are removing your inappropriately-acting child from the situation.
- If your child lashes out, throws a full tantrum, or hits, bites or otherwise loses control when you are trying to administer a time-out, be prepared to leave (or at least go sit in the car, lobby or away from the action) altogether.
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