Monday, August 25, 2014


I must confess that when our kids were growing up we hardly ever used 'time out' as a corrective action.  It wasn't even thought of those days as a consequence.  Our parents spanked us when we were disobedient and we just followed suit with our own kids.  A good swat on the behind usually did the trick back then.  Of course spanking a child is no longer advocated and in some countries such as New Zealand, it is now against the law.  I do agree that spanking should not be used unless all other options have been exhausted and, of course, we do need to heed the law.
Time out is a great option because it provides the opportunity for both the parent and the child to calm down and for the child to think about what they did that got them there!  Some kids throw a fit in 'time out' because they can't have their way, but this is part of learning to obey authority.  It is a lesson they will have to learn for the rest of their lives, so it's better to get their temper under control early.

I am amazed at how well 'time out' works with my own grandchildren, even the two year-old.  The parent will say, do you want a 'time out'?  The child then chooses whether to continue the disobedient path and, if so, the parent will say, "Go to your room and sit on your chair' and they just go and sit there.  They will not move until told they can get up.  Imagine that!  It really is a great thing to watch.

Some parents give up when their child will not stay on the 'time out' chair.  It is just a matter of persistence.  Put them on the chair and if they get off, just put them back on it without comment or display of anger.  If it happens a second time say with a firm voice, "Stay on your chair until I say you can get off!"  If you give in then they know exactly what it will take to get out of the consequence and you will have ten times the effort ahead of you to make them do as they are told. 

You might think that 'time out' does not work if you are not in your own home.  I have included two photos as examples of 'time out' being administered in the most unusual of places.  Granted it might not have quite the same effect, but the child is being taken away from their play and that counts for something.

I know that some corrective actions work on some kids and not on others.  Time out will work for most young children if you persist.  If the negative behavior continues, it may be because they do not connect the bad behavior with sitting on a time out chair.  It may be because the parent doesn't sit them there long enough (one minute for year of age is a good gauge) or insist they stay there.  If you have persisted with time out and it doesn't correct the behavior then there are other options.

There is always something that will cause a child to think twice before continuing to be disobedient. Of course, time out as such will not work for older kids but,

Here are some suggestions.
a) Withdrawing privileges.
b) Extra chores like cleaning out a closet or washing the car - chores beyond their
    normal responsibilities.
c) Removing favorite toys or electronic devices for a period.
d) Apologizing to you or to any other person affected by their behavior
    (with an explanation).
e) Restoring what might have been messed up or broken.
f) Grounding if the child is older.

Avoid using as behavioral consequences things that you want your children to learn. Like, don't get them to vacuum a room as that is a common chore that you want them to master as a life-skill. The main points are to act quickly to correct behavior, and always be persistent and consistent.

I couldn't resist adding this picture of our grandson in timeout with Daddy at the mall.  I don't think he was getting the message that this was serious business although he was taken away from the play area!

 Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

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