What's Time-Out For Anyway? Part I: How and why to use time-out with your kids. by Susie E. Caron 4/6/2015
What’s Time-Out For Anyway?
Part I: How and why to use time-out with your kids.
By Susie E. Caron © 4/6/15
This is a two part article. In Part I, I’ll explain the best use of time-out including the purpose, how and why it works and why it’s so hard for kids to do. Next week, in Part II, I’ll describe how you can easily teach children to use time-out and feel really successful in this use of this wonderful training tool.
What is time out – punishment or training?
Time-out is a useful tool that can help kids and parents through many difficult situations. However it is often used incorrectly and can do more damage than good. Time-outs should not be used only as punishment. It is far better to use time-out as training. I want to explain why and the best way to use time-outs.
Use time-out for the right reasons.
Time-outs should not be used as punishment – to push children away. That feels like shunning to children and can be frightening. That’s why parents must not ‘reject’ children when the time out is over by scolding or lecturing again, etc. When your children complete a time out, do not quiz them by asking “Do you know what you did wrong?” This is double jeopardy and can set up contentious feelings and bad behaviors are more likely to erupt again. I’ll explain below how you can talk with them about their behavior, at a better time.
"Instead of punishment, use time-out as training for kid's future ‘management
of emotions and behavior.’" (Anger management anyone?)
When to use a time-out.
Use a time-out when your kid’s behaviors are unacceptable. Behaviors could include hurting self or another, destroying property, or not complying with a parent’s reasonable request. It’s best to teach time-outs while your children are very young. This establishes the pattern. However you can teach later elementary aged children to use time-out correctly. (Adults can also take a time-out and model its use when necessary.)
What is the purpose of time-out?
The purpose is simply to calm down, readjust attitude and actions, and self-soothe. A time-out gives kids (and adults) time away from any activity in which they were engaged, and during which they did something unacceptable. Time-outs are best used to give kids and parents (caregivers) ‘time’ to feel their feelings, reflect on behaviors and decide that it is ‘worth it’ to amend their ways so they can rejoin friends or family members in activities.
How does time-out really help?
Simply stated, time-out gives kids time to realize that by being good, obeying the rules,
and behaving acceptably, they can continue to have their fun. When they don’t comply, they
lose their fun. This is the KEY. This is what makes a time out work!
Why is it so hard for kids to take ‘time out.’
Children do not want or enjoy being separated from friends or family activities. They are curious and don’t want to miss anything, and they frequently ‘want to have their own way.’ That’s why they will push, bargain and holler about being ‘in time-out.’ Parents must not give in to these tactics, nor argue with children. Instead parents can calmly and openly increase the time, on a timer, until the child calms down and regains more appropriate control over their behavior.
I hope this article is helpful to you to understand the use and reasons for time out.
Next week, I describe the tools and techniques you can use to successfully teach your kids how to use time out. I will also give you tips for what to say to your kids when they need to go to the time out chair, how to keep them there, and what to do for non-compliance.
Until next week, I'd be delighted for you to share this blog with your friends and remember to sign up to the right of this article. That way you'll receive my blogs and other features right to your email inbox.
Twee’ means you and me.
Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
Buy All 3 Today.
Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!