3 Tips for Introducing Time-Outs

1. Location is Key: “A good time-out spot should be reasonably convenient and in a location where you can monitor it to make sure your child isn’t being hurt and that she stays,” says Dean Pearson, Ph.D.
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This could be a stool, a mat, bottom step or any seat that is in a boring area and free from the distractions of other siblings, toys, television, or any object they could use to irritate you.

2. Timing a Time-Out: A timing strategy that works for most is one minute per year of your child’s age. So, a 2-year-old will spend 2 minutes in time-out, while a 4-year-old would get 4 minutes. If this timing strategy is not having a desired effect, increase by half the time (so a 4 year-old would get an extra two minutes, for a total of six). Keep track of time using your smartphone or kitchen timer. There is no limit to the number of time-outs you can use, but when your child realizes that the consequences are firm, the need for repeated time-outs will diminish.

3. Introduce the Spot: Don’t wait until your child misbehaves to surprise him with the time-out spot. When you are both in good moods, show your child the time-out spot and explain that this is a quiet space you will send him to if he does not behave or if he needs to cool down. List 3 to 5 examples of behaviors that result in time-out, such as hitting, biting, tantrum throwing, etc. Also let him know how long the time-out will last and that he can only get up when the timer rings.