Effective Parenting Techniques: How to Use Time Outs

adapted from an article by Henrietta Joyce

If your children have reached toddler age, by now you should be aware of the classic toddler tantrum. Arms and legs thrashing around, laying on the floor and screaming blue murder. Your anger rises. What to do at this moment? Well, it’s possible to stay calm and to mete out discipline techniques that are safe for your child – and you. Time out is a tactic that is often used by parents, and here are some tips for using it effectively.

  • Be Consistent
  • Make sure that your child knows that you always follow through.

Time out is most effective for children from three to six years old. For petty behavior that you would like to correct, time out is effective because small children hate being ignored! This allows your child to calm down and communicates to them that their behavior is not desirable.

Time out is only effective when:

· The adult remains calm
· The child understands in advance about Time Out
· It is viewed as a calming measure
· It is not over used

Here are some other guidelines:

  • Children must be told clearly which behaviours lead to Time Out. Parent cannot change the rules on a whim or when they are angry. For example if the rules are Time Out is used for biting, hitting and throwing things you cannot decide to send your child to Time out for refusing to eat her carrots at meal time. Remind her that Time Out is a way of helping her to calm down and behave better. Children should be shown where the time out area is in advance.
  • Choose a safe, quiet boring place. Hallways, bottom step, chair facing a wall or a small rug are all suitable Time Out places. It is always a good idea to have a back up room to send your child if he refuses to stay in the Time Out area. Remember Time Out is not a punishment so don’t use a scary place such as a dark cupboard or cellar.
  • To be effective Time Out needs to be short about three minutes for a three-year-old, four minutes for a four year old, a minute for each year of a child’s life.
  • When your child has been quiet for about two minutes invite him to come out. If your child refuses to come out don’t cajole or nag simply ignore him, he will join you when he is ready. Ask your child for an apology. It is important at this point to discuss calmly and pleasantly what has happened don’t lecture.

Many parents omit the final phase – the discussion. It is in fact the most important part of the using Time Out effectively because during the discussion the child is taught the correct way to behave. Finally give your child a hug to reassure him that you still love him. This is how to use time out as an effective parenting technique.

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