If you are a parent to a preschooler or toddler, the chances are that time-out is among your common discipline strategies. Time-outs are useful in making kids understand that their behavior is unacceptable. Just like any other disciplinary tool, they should be used correctly for them to have the most impact.
Why Use Time-Outs?
Research shows that a valid form of parenting must be both firm and warm. It implies that kids should feel loved, but also know that there are consequences if they act up. Time-outs give both parents and the children some time and space to calm down. The aim isn’t to punish or shame the child, but to neutralize the emotional situation. It helps kids to regulate their behavior and manage frustration.
What Makes Productive Time Outs?
It’s important to make sure your child understands the behaviors that are linked to time-out consequences. Work with them to determine the duration of the time-out depending on the wrongdoing.
Have a Pre-Determined Place
Designate a particular chair or area to help your child to understand what they expect. It is a good practice to label the time-out chair or room “The naughty chair” or any other similar phrase. Disciplinary tools are meant to teach kids how to behave and not to punish them.
When a child misbehaves, make sure that the time-out discipline measure is immediate. State the reason for your decision. A classic example would be, “No hitting. Go to the naughty chair.” Be specific, brief, and don’t show emotions. That way, your little bunny will understand the relationship between their misbehavior and the time-out.
Make It Brief
The basic formula for time-outs is a minute per year of age. Some experts recommend using a timer so that the child can watch the time elapse. Here is an example of how to determine duration based on age:
Two years old – 2 minutes
Three years old – 3 minutes
Four years old – 4 minutes
Five years old – 5 minutes
Time-outs aim to sit quietly. Therefore, don’t start the allotted time until your child sits down quietly. Make sure that your child is also calm before ending the time-out session. That way, children associate good behaviors with ending the time-out.
Don’t Pay Attention
You should ignore your child when they are on time-out. Don’t talk about them or to them. Avoid gesturing in their direction, even if they are protesting, crying, or whining. When you withdraw your attention during the time-out, you will be sending the message that misbehavior isn’t allowed.
Make sure that you affect the time-out rules whenever they make a mistake. That way, the child will relate misbehavior with an uncomfortable situation, and they will avoid it.
What’s Next After Time-Out?
Once your little one is done with time-out, make sure they complete what they were doing before being sent away. That helps kids to understand that being on time-out is not an escape route. Whenever you catch your little one doing good things, remember to praise their good behavior.