Solutions to the 5 Most Common Time-Out Problems

How to Make Time-Out More Effective

Make time-out effective.
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Time-out is one of the most effective discipline strategies for children under the age of 10. But many parents give up on time-out when they experience time-out problems .

If time out isn't changing your child's behavior, develop a plan to make time-out more effective. Here are solutions to the most common time-out problems.

1. My Child Won’t Stay in Time-Out

It’s pretty common for kids to refuse to stay in time-out.

Whether you use a time-out room, or a time- out chair, your child is likely to try and escape.

If your child leaves the time-out area, don't physically drag her or force her to return to the time-out area. Instead, tell her that not staying in time-out is her choice - but you will give her another consequence instead if she chooses not to finish her time-out.

Each time your child leaves the time-out area, tell her to return to time-out. If she doesn't comply, give her an if...then warning, such as, "If you don't return to time-out now, then you won't be able to watch TV for the rest of the day."

If she complies with returning to time-out, re-start the time and begin time-out all over again. Explain  that her time-out will start over every time she leaves the time-out area early.

If your child doesn’t seem to grasp the concept or keeps coming out of her room, skip the time-out and provide a more serious consequence.

For example, take away a privilege, like all of her electronics, for 24 hours.

2. My Child Just Plays the Whole Time

Time-out shouldn’t be a rewarding experience for kids. So make sure you aren't sending your child to her room where she's going to play video games during her time-out.

Find a time-out spot away from toys or anything rewarding for your child.

A quiet hallway or a chair in the kitchen can be boring places to serve time-out. Just make sure the area is safe and your child won’t injure herself.

3. My Child Constantly Calls Out to Me

If your child yells out to ask if she can get out of time-out, ignore it. This is an attention-seeking behavior and if you attend to it, you’ll only encourage it to continue. Pretend like you don’t hear her attempts to gain your attention.

Explain ahead of time that you won’t respond to her while he’s in time-out. Then, follow through with this as part of his consequence. Provide positive attention as soon as her time-out is over.

4. My Child Yells and Screams the Whole Time

If your child yells, screams, or exhibits a temper tantrum while she’s in time out, don’t start the timer until she’s quiet. Explain to her that the time will begin once she’s calm.

The goal is for your child to learn how to soothe herself and manage her uncomfortable feelings in socially appropriate ways. Time-out should deter her from repeating misbehavior as well.

Teach your child that throwing a tantrum won’t get your attention. Instead, show her that once time-out is over, you'll give her attention.

5. My Child Refuses to Go to Time-Out

If your child behaves refuses to go to time-out, don’t argue. Instead, offer one warning. If she still refuses to go to time-out, follow through with a different consequence.

Take away privileges or use logical consequences as an alternative. Make the consequences more serious than time-out, so your child will be more likely to agree to time-out in the future.

Avoid carrying your child to time-out or trying to physically hold her in a time-out chair. It can lead to an injury and will only role model aggressive behavior. Instead, take away the time-out option and offer a consequence that will have a bigger impact on her. 

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