TIME-OUT AS A BEHAVIORAL
A time-out is an educational (mainly parenting)
technique recommended by many pediatrists and developmental psychologists
as an alternative to spanking and other traditional forms of discipline.
In brief, the idea is to keep the child isolated for a limited period
of time, intended to allow it to calm down, learn coping skills
and discourage inappropriate behavior. It is also a time for parents
to separate feelings of anger toward the child for their behavior
and develop a plan for discipline.
Applying the technique
The technique is recommended mostly for toddlers
and upwards. For an older child, the parent is advised to explain
what kind of misbehavior will result in a time-out and also write
down those rules. When implementing the time-out, it is suggested
that no arguing should be allowed - that may work counter to the
idea behind the time-out, which is to allow the child to calm down.
Time-outs are not recommended for frequent use (if it works, improved
behavior should make it less necessary), but since they are considered
a mild form of discipline they are not always used as a last resort.
It is important to know the motivation of the
behavior. If a child throws a tantrum to escape something undesirable,
then the time-out can be seen as a positive outcome by the child
and the behavior will be reinforced next time.
Guidelines for using time-out
The following guidelines are usually given for
Decide what type of behavior warrants a time-out (such as fighting,
arguing or throwing tantrums), and try to enforce this fairly and
consistently. All adults involved with the child should follow similar
guidelines when using a time-out.
Designate a corner (hence the common term corner
time) or similar space where the child is to stand during time-outs.
Never use their bed.
Use an age appropriate time length for the time-out.
For a short time-out, approximately one minute per year of age is
reasonable; that time may be doubled if necessary if the child pushes
their limits during the time-out.
Have an incentive for completing the time-out
without arguing. This may for instance be a loss of a privilege
until the time-out has been completed.
The time-out should always have verbal warnings
before the discipline to allow the child to make appropriate choices.
If their bad behavior continues, they should have an explanation
for the time-out as they are being escorted to that area. Even one-year
olds understand when they have reached their parental limit, but
the explanations should be age appropriate.
Afterwards both the parent and the child should
try to leave the incident behind.
using time-out in the classroom
Another outline, which is better suited to the
1. Announce the guidelines to the children periodically. Explain
what a timeout is, and demonstrate how it begins and ends.
2. When a child misbehaves, approach it saying, "Time out for
X" (where X is the forbidden act, e.g., teasing).
3. Send or bring the child to the time-out place. (Within earshot
of the teacher is best.)
4. When time's up, go over to the child and say, "Why did you
have time-out?" The ideal answer is, "For X" (e.g.,
"Because I teased Sally.") If they don't seem to know
why they got time out, remind them (briefly).
5. After they are let out of the area, they are to apologize to
the victim if there is one.
While some proponents of time-outs insist on silence
and stillness from the child during the time-out, others insist
that the time-out should allow the child to get anger and frustration
out of their system.
Some of those in favor of spanking have argued
that time-outs are ineffective. Others argue that it should be seen
as a complement rather than as an alternative to spanking; a spanking
may be preceded and/or followed by a time-out 'to think about what
you did'; some individual often order time-out to be spent divested
as during spanking, even exposing the reddened bare bottom afterwards,
with the hope of making the punishment
more humiliating. As discipline means to teach, no disciplinary
technique should be used without the child understanding why the
behavior was unacceptable and what behavior is expected.
Counting to Three
One form of this is counting to three as a way
to get children to listen to parents the first time. When a child
is doing something wrong you say, "That's One". Then wait
five seconds. If they are still doing the unacceptable behavior
say, "That's Two". Wait five more seconds and say "That's
Three, Take Five" or "That's Three, Time Out". Then
you put them in time out.
Time out can be their room, a naughty chair or
another spot you have designated for this purpose. They stay there
for five minutes, or less if they are under five years old. When
their time is up and they have calmed down they can come out of
the time out area.
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