Time outs are an effective means of disciplining a child. It is especially effective if done the right way. Some people think time outs do not work, either they can’t get their child to stay on time out, or they aren’t using it appropriately. However, it is a great method, and here are some tips to make it work for your family:
Tip one: Consistency. If there was one secret to good parenting it would be consistency. Consistency is all important because when you are not consistent, children do not know how to react, or what will happen when they do certain things. Being consistent with time outs make them an effective disciplinary tool. Just make sure when disciplining a child that they get the same discipline for the same behavior each time. So if you give a time out for slamming a door, or back talking one time, then you need to give a time out for the same behavior any time they do it. If you don’t, time outs become ineffectual because they won’t hold water.
Tip two: Be sure your time out location is not going to jeopardize anything else, or be ineffective. The ideal criteria for a time out location is somewhere that is somewhat secluded. A child should not have to sit on a time out in a toy room where other children are playing. It should not be where other things happen. For example, time out on the bed is a bad idea, as a child may start to associate their bed with negative consequences, which may make them resist bedtime. It should be somewhere they feel safe. A good solution is to designate a place in the house for time outs to be held, and have that be it’s sole function.
Tip three: Give a warning and then give a time out. Although children should know better, sometimes they need reminders to behave. So, when you see a child acting up, give one warning, “If you continue to fight with your sister, you will go on time out.” Then follow through. It is critical that you do not give a second warning, or a second chance. It is also critical that you do not show uncontrolled emotion or anger. If you warn the child, and they still choose the poor behavior, simply follow through with the aforementioned discipline. Do not lecture, do not yell, just send them to a time out firmly. If they balk at it, do not explain or justify, just calmly repeat yourself, or walk them to their time out. This will help them learn to take your threats seriously, and will help eliminate the tantrums that come when you enforce discipline. It may take some time, but stick with it and it will pay off.
When using time outs to discipline your child, make sure that you only use it when you can follow through with it, and that you only put them in time out for an appropriate length of time. A good rule of thumb is one minute per year old, but time should be at your discretion, but should not exceed 5-10 minutes.