For some parents time outs are the best thing in the world. For others, they don’t seem to work, and they wonder what their other options are. When timeouts don’t work, there are a couple of options. You can stick with them, and adjust your approach until they do work, or choose an alternative discipline, such as grounding the child from things that they enjoy.
If you decide to stick with it until it works, here are some tips to help make time outs work for even the most difficult child:
Stick with them- It can be a challenge when your child does not respond well, stay in the time out, or throws tantrums about it, but the important thing is to stick with it. Just continue to use it, and don’t show the child how frustrated you are becoming, and eventually they will accept that this is how you are going to handle their misbehavior.
Be consistent- If you want your time outs to work and they aren’t it may be a matter of consistency, so the first step should be making sure that you are consistent with giving them. Make sure that the same behavior always gets same punishment. And, never warn them if you can’t follow through. If you stray from this, they will not be effective because your child will know that they do not have to have a time out and that if they throw a big enough fit, or react enough, that you will choose something else instead.
Make sure they are done right away- A time out is only effective if put into effect immediately after the misbehavior. If a child is bad while driving to or from somewhere, you can’t wait until you get home to put them in a time out, as the connection between action and consequence is lost along the way. So, any time you can’t enforce the time out immediately choose a different discipline tactic.
Help them get there, and make sure they stay there, just make sure you stay calm when you do it- One of the reasons time outs don’t work for many is that they simply can’t get the child to go to one. So, the key is to help them get there if needed. Do not get mad, do not raise your voice, just walk them over to it, and make sure they stay. If they get out, then sit on it with them, and hold them in place. Just make sure you do not interact with them while doing so. Do not lecture them, do not talk to them about it, just sit there. Then, when the time out is over, resume activity as if it is business as usual.
Maintain your composure- time outs won’t work if you lose your control when putting a child in one. So, keep calm, and be firm, but loving.