As a parent, one of the best forms for disciplining a small child is a time out. A time out serves as a break from the action, where they can think about their behavior, calm down their emotions, and get to a place where they can play or interact with others without a problem. Sometimes however, parents find that time outs are either not very effective, or they can’t get their kid to go on it. The following is a look at what to do when time outs don’t work:
First, consider your other options. For some, having a privilege taken away is a better option, as the child will respond to it more readily. For example, if two siblings are fighting over what television show to watch, they can be grounded from the television for the day, or lose their television privilege for that afternoon. If a child does not do homework, their screen time might be revoked, or they may not be allowed to hang out with friends. The idea is to take away something that correlates with the misbehavior.
Next, consider why time outs aren’t working for you. There are times when a time out is the perfect discipline, especially when the offense is minor enough to not warrant a big punishment. So, instead of abandoning time outs as a discipline option, consider how you can help make them work. For example, if you stick with them long enough, eventually a child will recognize them for what they are, and respond to them. Of course, in order for this to work you have to do a few things:
- You have to be consistent with what behaviors warrant a time out. If one day the child argues over who gets the pink plate and who gets the blue one, and you put them on time out for it, and the next day they do the same thing and you don’t, time outs will never work for you. The same behavior has to always warrant the same punishment. Otherwise it will never work.
- You have to establish cause and effect. When a child misbehaves, the time out has to be immediate, not after the friend leaves, or once you get home from the grocery store. A child has to learn that when they act poorly, the result or effect is a time out. So, if you can’t put the child on an immediate time out, choose a different means of disciplining them.
- Be calm. Sometimes a child will throw a fit when you send them to time out. When this happens, simply pick them up, and walk them there. Hold them there if you have to, but don’t lecture or yell, be calm, and firm, and they will soon learn that no matter how they act they are going to get a time out when they misbehave, and behavior will improve.