Disciplining Your Child: Try Our Time-Out Techniques

If your child has been acting out, one effective form of discipline can be a time-out. Time-outs can be a fantastic disciplinary tool when carried out efficiently and with reason. Here are a few strategies you can use to get the behavior you desire.

When Can You Begin Using Time-Outs?
You may be wondering when you can begin using a time-out as a disciplinary measure in your house. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that it is okay to introduce the time-out concept to children as young as 12 months old, but only as a last resort at this young of age.

It is suggested that if you do try time-outs with children between the ages of 12 to 24 months that you should act immediately (as soon as the bad behavior occurs), and then explain calmly in no more than ten words why they are receiving the time-out. It’s also recommended that you give them positive feedback as soon as they calm down.

We began using a time-out technique when my children were around the ages of two because that is when I felt they really understood what and why we were using it. Time-out typically works best as a disciplinary measure between the ages of two and four.

Where Should Your Child Do a Time-Out?
Designate a spot in your home where your child must go when they misbehave. Ideally, it’s somewhere you can see your child, but not necessarily need to interact with them while they are there. In our house, the last step on the stairs, right next to the kitchen, was the spot where I could keep my eye on my child, the timer and keep them removed enough that I did not need to interact with them during the quiet time.

If your child refuses to stay in the spot you have designated, a time-out can be served in a separate room of your home, which is typically their bedroom. In this scenario, within reason, take away anything that might distract them from reflecting on their actions, like electronics.

Wherever you send them, make sure the location is a safe and unscary place where they can reflect.

How Long Should a Time-Out Be?
Ideally, the rule of thumb is one minute per year of age (with a maximum being 10 minutes). You want to avoid leaving your child in time-out so long that they have forgotten why they are there in the first place. It defeats the purpose of this form of discipline.

Invest in an old-school timer that ticks and dings so that your child can visually see how long they have until their time is up and hear the timer go off when the time-out duration has ended.

End Things on a Positive Note
When the time-out has ended, give your child a big hug. You want to always demonstrate your love to them, even when they are not on their best behavior.

Although executing discipline consistently, like a time-out, can be difficult, remember that sometimes as moms we need a time-out too. When your kids are not following the rules, it can be very frustrating. Use their time-out to calm down and take deep breaths to help you also feel calmer about the situation. When the time-out it is over, you may find you need that big hug as much as your child. 

Reinforce the Time-Out Concept with Your Child’s Other Caregivers
For me, the most important key to getting my kids to behave was to be consistent about discipline. Whatever methods we used in our home, the same methods were used at preschool, the caregiver’s and at grandma’s house.

Remaining consistent with discipline reinforces the consequences of bad behavior and helps break bad behavior habits so you and your child can enjoy daily routines and activities with fewer hiccups along the way.

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