Time-Out Rules You Should Follow
Of course, time-out sounds easy . . . until you try it. It’s then that the yelling, screaming, kicking, and running away start.
Good rules to follow for time-out:
- Time-out is effective for children ages eighteen months and older.
- 50% of your child’s body must stay in the chair. If they are half laying on the chair, that works! (At least for the start.)
- If your child gets off the chair, put him back in the chair.
- If your child gets off a second time, then give a consequence. “If you get off the chair, you will not be able to watch television today.” “If you get off the chair, you will not get a fruit snack during snack time.”
- If you go through THREE consequences, then finish time-out the best you can and follow through with the consequences. Usually one time of having to experience three consequences is enough to teach your child that staying in the chair is worth it!
- Your child must be quiet in time-out. OK, THIS is a hard one. It’s still hard. My younger children cry, and my six-year-old likes to argue. Let your child know she must be quiet in time-out, but if she isn’t, just ignore her. Do not give continuous commands to quiet down. Do not yell. Do not lecture. (This is hard.) Just ignore your child’s noise or words. Eventually your child will be quiet. It’s not fun arguing when no one responds! We have gotten to the place where my children are mostly quiet in time-out. Sometimes, I do give one reminder. Sometimes, if they refuse to quiet, I will add more time to the timer.
- Your child stays in time-out for one minute for each year they are old. Two years old = two minutes, etc.
- Remember the key is that your child is missing the FUN! If your child is in time-out, go and play with the other kids. Your child may consider it “teasing.” (I’ve heard this.) But it’s reinforcement.
- If you are having trouble with any of the rules, model time-out again with Mr. Fluffy, reinforcing the rules.
- If your child does not go to the chair on his own, you can help him, guiding him gently.
- If another child bothers your child in time-out, then he goes to time-out too. (This usually only has to happen once or twice to be remembered.)
- Use a kitchen timer for YOURSELF. I’ve forgotten to use a timer before, and my kids have stayed in time-out for more than ten minutes. Ooops! But use the timer as a reminder, not as the end of time-out. You are the one who gets your child out of time-out.
- You may need to reset the timer for children who know the time-out routine—and who’ve been following it—but one day try to test it by getting down or screaming during time-out. They will discover that having the time reset is not fun!
Time-out tips to remember:
- Sending a child to time-out must happen immediately after the unacceptable behavior occurs. Having it happen later does NOT work.
- Do not lecture. Your only response should be, “You chose not to pick up the blue car and obey Mommy. You chose to go to time-out.”
- Don’t let bad behavior build. Nip it in the bud with the first unacceptable behavior. If you let the behaviors escalate to a tantrum you will not be able to have an effective time-out.
How YOU should act:
- Caring (you are doing this to teach obedience)
- Consistent (don’t let your child use an excuse and get off)
How your child should act:
- At first your child may scream and cry, but when she realizes this doesn’t work, this behavior should stop.
- All protests, fussing, promises to be good should be ignored, too.
- Your child might say stuff like, “I want to sit here. I like it.” This should be ignored, too.
- Eventually your child should be able to go to time-out on her own, sit there quietly, and wait for you to come. This may seem like a dream, but it can be reached!
The next post will talk about what to do when time-out is over. I’d love your thoughts so far!