How to Effectively Use Time-Out as a Discipline Technique | Part 2

Young boy (6-7 years) wearing cowboy costume, standing on armchair yelling

Three Behaviors When Time-Out Should Be Used

Did you miss a post in this series? Read parts one and three.

On Monday we talked about how time-outs are effective, especially for children from the foster care system . . . although this time-out system really can work for any child. I talked about one of the situations when time-outs should be used: when a child does not obey a parent’s direct command.

Before I get to the second behavior, in which you should use time-out, let me assure you that it is effective. When we got our two children from the foster care system, many very challenging behaviors came with them. I was so frustrated and angry myself. Time-out gave me a tool to use so I can cut-off my own feelings of anger. Time-out continues to give the child respect. And you don’t have to resort to hitting, yelling, or threatening behaviors.

It’s also important for you to teach this technique to others who watch your children. Consistency is important! It’ll also give others tools to stop their frustration!

Like I mentioned in the last post, there are three behaviors when time-out should be used.

  1. When a child does not obey a parent’s direct command. 
  2. For unacceptable behaviors.

When we first got our kids from the foster care system there were A LOT of unacceptable behaviors. Hitting, lying, breaking stuff, throwing stuff, temper tantrums, fighting, shouting. (Should I keep going?) There were too many things to try to deal with!

The key is to work on one behavior at a time. Make a “house rule” and focus on that.

It’s still expected for your child to obey a direct command, but then introduce a house rule such as, “No throwing things.”

Even though there are many other behaviors, focus on that one for two or three days until you’ll see that behavior starting to subside.

This only works when you:

  • Praise your child wildly for positive behaviors
  • Are consistent and use a time out every time the negative behavior occurs.

Also, talk about the behavior during the day at a time when there is NO conflict. “Do you remember the house rule about tantrums. What is it?”

I also got books from the library that also talk about the negative behavior—so that it is reinforced.

As the behavior improves then it’s OK to move on to a new behavior. The goal is 80% compliance.

There is one more behavior that warrants a time-out, and this is obvious:

  1. When a child does not obey a parent’s direct command.
  2. For unacceptable behaviors.
  3. For dangerous behaviors.

Dangerous Behavior
Running away from a parent. Playing with scissors. Trying to stick something in an outlet. Throwing a glass . . . all these are behaviors that warrant a time out. Children need to learn that these are dangerous and NOT acceptable.

So, what do you think? Is this helpful?

Next Monday, we’re going to start giving details about choosing a location for time-out!

Did you miss a post in this series? Read parts one and three.


Did you hear the good news? My book The Swiss Courier (that I co-write with Mike Yorkey) is on sale! My new book Balanced is available now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $2.99 (digital only)!

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