Using Time Out
by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff
Child time-out can be a great discipline tool, but only if it is used consistently
and appropriately. It is really only effective for children at least two years of
age and younger than eight. Children over the age of eight respond better to losing
privileges and receiving rewards.
Establish a place.
Establish a spot in the home and give it a name
like the “time-out” spot. It can be a specific
chair or a corner. Always use the same spot when
your child misbehaves.
Give a warning.
When your child misbehaves give them a warning. Get
down on their level and in a firm voice let them know
that if the behavior continues that they will have to
go to the time-out spot. Not every behavior justifies
a time-out so only give a warning when the behavior
justifies it and you are willing to enforce a time-out.
If the behavior is repeated then take them to
the time-out spot. Children will often throw a
fit and cry at being forced to leave an activity
and go to time-out, but that is okay.
Set a time limit.
Set a timer for the same number of minutes as
your child is years old. A two-year-old should be
in time-out for two minutes, a four-year-old four
minutes, and so on. If your child leaves the time-out
spot before the timer goes off calmly place them back in
time-out. My youngest has a very hard time staying in time-out.
I often have to put her back in three or four times in the three
minutes she is in the corner. When you place them back in time-out
do it without yelling or threatening further punishment. Eventually
they will learn that they have to stay in time-out when placed there. (Although my
daughter still hasn’t learned that lesson completely.)
Once the time is up then get down and explain exactly
why they were put in time-out. Talk about their behavior
and what you would like them to do differently. You might
say something like, “You had to go to time-out because you
hit your sister. That hurt her. I want you to play nice
I always make my child apologize. For older children it
may be harder to get them to apologize so instead you can
say when you are sorry I expect to hear an apology. For repeated
behaviors you might want to try writing a parent-child contract.
Reinforce your love
Then I give my child a hug and a kiss and send them off to
play. It is important to remind your child that even though you
did not like their behavior that you still love them. So often
children associate discipline with rejection and as a parent that
is not what you want through the technique of child time-out.