As my children get older, I am finding that time-outs are becoming less and less effective. My son is eight, my daughter is seven and my youngest daughter is four. Time-outs still work pretty well for the four year old but for the older two, I have found the need to hone my time-out management.
The fact is, they still need time-outs. I need a variety of disciplinary tactics in my arsenal at all times. Here are some tips that have worked for me when it comes to administering effective time-outs:
Decide Which Actions Warrant a Time-Out
I have always found a time-out to be effective when a specific rule has not been followed or the child just flat out did the opposite of what they were supposed to do. In our house, hitting or kicking and talking back are time out offenses. My children know and they have often just walked themselves over to the time-out spot.
Choose an Effective Time-Out Spot
The place should be boring, without distractions, without television or a computer and away from all other activities. There should be nothing to play with. We use a chair in our living room. My sister uses the bottom stair in her house.
Starting the Time-Out
If I have given a warning and that hasn’t worked, I immediately send my child to the time-out spot. I usually walk him or her there telling them why they are going to time-out. If the children won’t go on his/her own, I carry them there. I have had to stand right next to my child several times to keep them in time-out as well.
Don’t Give In
My kids have begged, pleaded, screamed, cried, yelled, kicked and more to get out of time-out. I ignore them until their time is up.
Timing the Time-Out
The general rule of thumb that I have always used with my children is one minute for every year of age (so my four year old stays in time out for four minutes). Often times, after a minute though, my youngest is already struggling. My older children both did well with this guideline but we have had to tailor it a little for my youngest. We usually do three minutes for her but at least long enough so that she knows she is being punished.
NOTE: I also use a time-out app on my phone that helps me keep track of the time.
Back to Normal
Once the time-out is over, my kids can go right back to what they were doing before (with the exception of that behavior, of course). We will usually discuss what happened later that same day so they understand that the behavior is not to be repeated.
What tips do you have for administering effective time-outs?
Read more from Stacie on The Divine Miss Mommy.
Related: Time for a time-out? How to make them effective tools for learning