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Time Out Process

Everyone needs an occasional time out, even adults. Time outs are a great positive parenting technique which can be used as constructive ways to discipline childrenand slow down the action and get your child to take a minute for himself. Even preschool-aged children can benefit from the occasional time out.

Where should a time out occur?

A time out area is usually a chair, but it can also be a corner, spot in your child's room, or any other handy spot. It doesn't have to be a special chair. As a matter of fact, if you don't have a designated time out chair, your child may learn that time outs can occur anytime and anywhere he misbehaves. After all, even stores and restaurants have quiet places that can be used for a quick time out if need be.

How Long Should a Time Out Be?

An appropriate time out is equivalent to one minute for the age of the child. If your child is three, three minutes should be the most time he spends in time out. If he is five, a time out should be for five minutes. This will give your child enough time to calm down while allowing him to remember why he's in time out to begin with.

How to Initiate a Time Out

We've all seen parents drag a child to the time out chair, both of them yelling and screaming as they go. Time outs, like any positive discipline technique should not be initiated in anger. If your child is misbehaving, tell him that his behavior is not appropriate, tell him why it isn't appropriate, and let him know the consequences he will face if he continues the behavior, i.e., the time out chair. Give him only this one warning. If he continues to misbehave, guide him to the time out chair/area and explain that he'll need to remain in the chair until you tell him to get out. Some parents use a timer to let their child know when the time out will end, but this may focus your child's attention on the timer rather than the reason for the time out. If your child gets out of the time out chair/area, put him back in. He'll get the idea. It may be a good idea to start slowly with time outs. Pick one or two major discipline problems and focus the time out method on only those issues. This will help your child understand the reason for time outs and help him learn to control his behavior. Always make the rules clear and the discipline consistent.