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Time-Out

Guidelines for time-out

Time-out is a type of discipline that is used to stop a child from performing a bad behavior "isolating" the child for a period of time. Time-out helps establish that the parent is in charge, and allows the child to think about what he or she has done. Time-outs are useful for aggressive and harmful behaviors in toddlers and preschool-aged children.

Where should a time-out occur?

The place for time-out to occur should be chosen ahead of time, not at the time of the behavior. The following are some examples of places for time-out:

  • Crib or play pen

  • Chairs or corners of the room

  • A designated room

How long should a time-out last?

  • A general guideline is one minute for each year of the child's age. For example, 3-year-olds get three minutes of time-out.

  • A maximum length of time for time-out should be no more than five minutes.

Placing your child in time-out:

  • The reason the child is being sent to time-out should be explained to him or her in very clear statements.

  • If the child does not go to time-out on his or her own, lead him or her there.

  • Do not spank or yell on the way to time-out.

Stopping time-out:

  • As a parent, you decide when time-out is over, not the child. If the child "escapes" during time-out, restart the clock.

  • Tell your child time-out is over and allow him or her to resume normal activities.

  • Treat the child normally after time-out. Do not lecture again on the behavior.

Medical Reviewer: [Foster, Sara RN MPH, Gaskin, Kelly RN, MSN, CPNP] Last Annual Review Date: 2011-07-08T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: Copyright © 2007 Staywell Content Services, Inc. except where otherwise noted.

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