Time-out: How To Give One
Time-out consists of immediately isolating your child in a boring place for a few minutes whenever he misbehaves. It's also called quiet time, thinking time, or cooling-off time. Time-out is the best discipline technique available for behavior that can't be ignored, such as harmful or disruptive behavior. Time-out has the advantage of providing a cooling-off period to allow both you and your child to calm down and regain control of your emotions. The best place for a time-out is anywhere out of the mainstream. Playpens are good for younger toddlers. Sitting or standing in a corner is good for an older toddler. Preschoolers can be sent to their room.
Here's how you can give a time-out:
- First: Time-out should be about 1 minute per year of age with an upper limit of 5 minutes. A portable kitchen timer can be set for the required time. The timer can stop your child from asking you when she can come out of time-out. The best type to use is one that ticks continuously and rings when the time is up. The best place to put it is where your child can see and hear it, but out of her reach.
- Second: Be sure your child stays in time-out for the full amount of time. Some strong-willed toddlers initially need to be held in the chair, with one hand on the shoulder. Don't be discouraged. This teaches your youngster that he has to comply.
- Third: Until 4 years of age, many children are unwilling or unable to comply with a rule to be quiet in time-out. Ignore tantrums in time-out just as you would tantrums outside of time-out. Also ignore noise making and complaining.
- Fourth: When the time is up, go to your child and tell him, "Time-out is over, you can get up now." Treat him normally and give him a clean slate. Keep an eye on him and try to praise him as soon as possible for some good behavior.
If you have any questions about time-out, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.