Time outs work for kids. You can tell me that they don’t work all you want, but I believe they can stop a behavior if they are carried out properly. Time outs are frustrating and time consuming, but completely worth it once you get yourself and your child into the routine. Here are my tips on using time outs!
- When you start using time outs, explain the process to your child. Let them practice it with a stuffed animal or doll.
- If your child is throwing full on temper tantrums, he is old enough for a time out. Usually, this is around 1 year of age. For children about 2 and under, time out is pretty much only useful for calming the child down. It is acceptable to have your child sit with you at this age if he or she will not sit in a time out chair, or if you need to hold flailing arms and legs down so that no one gets hurt. Around 2, you can use time out to stop a behavior. It can be a punishment, but it is still mostly used for calming. Read your child and decide on what works.
- Don’t use time out for every little thing. Choose a few basic rules, explain them to your children, and let them know that they will be put in time out if they break the rule. A good example is “If you don’t do what mommy or daddy asks you to or do what we tell you not to do, you are going to have to sit in time out for not listening.”
- Time outs work really well for tantrums. They teach kids how to soothe themselves and gain control. I see kids give themselves a little break when they need to calm down after time outs have been used properly and consistently.
- Warn your child that a time out is coming if they do not change their behavior. Give them a few seconds to make a better choice. If they don’t, then they get time out. If they do, praise them for making a better choice.
- Have a time out spot. Chairs usually work best. Make sure the spot is boring (no toys, can’t see the TV, can’t watch the rest of the family). Use the same spot every time that you’re home, but don’t forget that you can give your child a time out when you are other places as well. Cars work for a time out spot when out and about!
- Follow through. If you threaten a time out if a behavior continues… and it continues, DO IT! You have to follow through or they are going to assume you’re bluffing the next time and they won’t listen! This is true for any punishment, so just do what you say. Think first. Don’t threaten a punishment that you aren’t going to follow through with! You’ll look silly.
- The hardest thing about time outs is that kids get up out of time out. They get up and run away over and over and over! You NEED to go get them and put them back in their time out spot every. single. time. If you don’t, then they know that they can push you to a certain point and you’ll give up. Then, they’ll try to push you to that point every time. Your child is testing you to see how far you’ll go! Don’t give up! You could spend an entire day putting your child back into time out! But remember that your child will learn that you mean business if you keep it up consistently every time for a week or two. Then by that point, hopefully, they’ll stay sitting most of the time because they realize that they won’t win.
- Set a timer! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents get their kid to sit down and then they get up after a few seconds or a minute or are even still screaming, and their parent lets it go. Time out will not be affective if you do this! Kids need a little while to calm down. Start the timer AFTER they stop screaming and are sitting mostly still (as still as a toddler sits). Use one minute for each year of age (Three year olds sit for three minutes). You can leave the timer near them so they can see it. You can make a time out bottle to use as a timer too! Look up “calm down jar” or “time out bottle” on Pinterest! Here’s a great tutorial.
- Don’t talk to your child during time out. Don’t yell because you’ll make your child want to yell back. Don’t give them any attention. Kids loveee attention! Don’t try to reason with your child. They are not capable of this right now. I hear a lot of parents say “are you done now?” to their child who is still crying or has just stopped. They start the crying all over again because you gave them attention for their behavior! Attention is a reward.
- Have a talk with your child after their time out is over. Explain to him what he did wrong. They won’t listen if you try to tell them while you’re putting them in time out. If you don’t explain afterwards, they might have no idea what they did wrong and they’ll just do it again! The goal is to stop a behavior, but you can’t stop it if the child doesn’t know what the behavior is.
- Give hugs and kisses after you have a talk. Remind your child that you love him or her. Remind your child that he needs to make better choices (put the responsibility on them). Let your child talk to you and tell you what he is feeling or why he did what he did. Listen and respond lovingly. This will make you feel better too! A lot of parents think that their child will hate them if they punish him, but this talk and hug might remind you that your child does not hate you and that you are loving him by disciplining him. Children have better relationships with their parents when they are disciplined properly!
Be consistent, follow through, and don’t give up. You can do it!
For some great information, look into 123 magic.
Do you have any more time out tips?
Featured photo from Jezebel.com.