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Top 5 Strategies for Effective Time-outs

Girl sitting on timeout chair

Time-outs are a great way to send a message to your child that you are not pleased with their behavior.  Below are five ways to make the most out of a child's time-out:

  1. Place your child in a location that is boring with no distractions.  Your child should experience as close to "nothing" as possible.
  2. Your child's bedroom should not be a place for time-out.  Instead, find a location where you can monitor them, but they cannot watch TV or look out a window.
  3. Use a timer.  If they leave before the timer goes off, reset it. Begin to increase the time to have a more meaningful impact.
  4. Once time-out is over have the child correct the action that caused them to be sent to time-out. If it was because they didn't pick up their toys, have them return to that task.  If they refuse send them back to time-out and start the process over.
  5. Don't take your child's good behavior for granted.  Offer frequent praise for good behavior throughout the day.

"For time-out to work, parents have to create a positive time-in environment, meaning positive, loving and fun experiences for the child," said Tom Reimers, Director of Boys Town Behavioral Health Clinic and author.  "As a rule you should give your child at least three positive comments for every one negative".