Time-Out for Kids: A Parent’s Secret Weapon for Better Behavior

The exercise of sending offspring to their rooms for a certain period of time when they behave inappropriately has gained popularity over the last several decades as a means of correcting the conduct of children. The following is some uplifting information on the use of time-outs: The scientific community agrees that it is an efficient method for modifying the behavior of toddlers. What’s the rotten news? The vast majority of people are doing it wrong.

Why Time-Out?

Research conducted over the last half century demonstrates that utilizing time out as a form of discipline is an effective method. But in recent years, it has developed what seems to be a poor reputation in the media.

Some people argue that time-outs for children, especially toddlers, are counterproductive since they do not teach youngsters how to behave better. Nevertheless, one method of toddler discipline that continues to be officially advised is the use of time-outs.

Foto: Pixabay/Pexels
Foto: Pixabay/Pexels

Brief History of the Time-Out Technique

The whole title of this technique is “time-out from positive reinforcement.” It is a method in which the kid is temporarily removed from an environment that is encouraging poor conduct and put in a safe setting that is not reinforcing. The goal of this procedure is to teach the child to behave appropriately in social situations.

Child psychologists in the 1950s came up with this method, tried it out, and eventually improved upon it. From the 1960s through the 1980s, a significant corpus of research was conducted with the goal of demonstrating that it was possible to halt undesirable behavior.

It is unfortunate that appropriate training or accurate information is not always readily accessible. The majority of parents seek advice from other parents, the internet, parenting books, or just make educated guesses. As more time has passed, the practice of time-out has evolved to add inappropriate components, which scarcely resemble the original technique.

Procedure for Time-Out


The foremost step you need to take is define the rule. Tell your kid that if they act in a way that you don’t want them to, you’ll have to put them in time-out. But if they refrain from doing what they’re doing or act in the way that’s expected of them, they’ll obtain a different result. Inform them that this is the only warning they will get.

After a warning has been sent, there must be an instant time-out if the undesirable behavior is not corrected quickly. Please provide a clear explanation. Never give someone a “second chance,” and never negotiate. If you don’t follow the rules, getting out of the time-out will just encourage you to continue acting inappropriately.

Peaceful Venue

The time-out environment should include relatively few social, sensory, material, or activity stimuli, such as toys or products that encourage activity. According to a number of studies, the effectiveness of a time-out space decreases with the level of stimulation it provides.


If the kid persists in leaving the time-out area, you should coax them back with gentle encouragement. It’s possible that you’ll need to do this a few times, but be polite and consistent each time. You may remain in close proximity to them to safeguard that they do not leave the area, but you should not engage with them in any way.

The goal is to make this location uninteresting by removing any potential reinforcers. Do not permit any contacts, activities, or materials of any type that have the potential to become unintentional reinforcement.

Ideal Period

There is a common misconception that the amount of time spent should rise in proportion to the child’s age. On the other hand, there is insufficient evidence that can be relied upon to support that assertion. In point of fact, studies have shown that older children benefit just as much from time-outs that last between two and five minutes as they do from those that go for longer.

Even if the allotted time has passed, the youngster is not free to go until they have shown a few seconds of peaceful and composed conduct.

It is necessary to resubmit the original command before the time-out may be ended. In order to prevent the kid from using the time-out method as a means of evading a command, the youngster must comply with the instruction given to stop the procedure.

Positive Reinforcement

The use of positive reinforcement is an essential component that must be present in order to forestall the next unsatisfactory conduct. Give the proper amount of attention to one’s actions. Make sure that your household is full of exciting activities, a tight bond between you and your kid, and other pleasant and engaging interactions. Give them praise whenever you see them doing anything positive.

It won’t make much of a alteration whether a kid is put into a time-out or not, if the child lives in an environment that is filled with negative interactions, or if there is a lack of affection and fun activities; as a result, the time-out technique won’t be an effective technique in discouraging inappropriate behavior.

Mistakes in Time Out


The emphasis on using time-out as a kind of punishment is one of the most prevalent ways in which it is misapplied. A punishment is an unnaturally unpleasant consequence that is placed on the kid in order to make them feel terrible.

The purpose of time-out is not to serve as a form of discipline. It is a technique for the adjustment of behavior that teaches a youngster how to make excellent choices about their conduct. The youngster acquires the ability to make a choice that will lead to a certain result. The youngster will have the opportunity to make a wise decision if a warning is given at each and every occurrence.


However, when young children misbehave or throw temper tantrums, angry caregivers sometimes find it difficult to manage their own emotions. This is because young toddlers are still developing their emotional regulation skills. As a kind of punishment, they employ time-outs when they are angry.

Absence of Enmity

When a time-out is administered with anger, screaming, an intimidating tone of voice, a lengthy duration, or humiliation — such as sitting in a chair designated for bad students or standing in a corner in front of the whole class at school — it is transformed into a kind of punishment. None of these activities will educate your kid on how to behave in a socially acceptable manner.

It is especially harmful to use time-out chairs for toddlers as a means of shaming or humiliating the kid since there is a correlation between shame and a greater risk for depression in later years when the child is a teenager.

Controlling Emotions

Observation and interaction with their parents are the primary means through which toddlers acquire the ability to self-regulate and self-control. When a kid receives a time-out from their parents, and the parents react angrily or hostilely, they are modeling unregulated behavior for their child to mimic. Therefore, when time-outs are used as a form of punishment, the only thing a kid learns is how to feel alone and rejected, as well as how to have difficulty regulating their emotions.

Relational sorrows are caused by being rejected and being alone. Brain scans have shown that the regions of a kid’s brain that are active when the child is experiencing relational pain are the same regions that are active when the child is experiencing physical pain. We are aware that physical abuse, such as corporal punishment, may be harmful to the psyche of a child who is still growing. Therefore, the discomfort that is created by using time-outs as a form of discipline may also be detrimental to the growing brain.

Pondering About the Mistake

Putting a kid in time-out does not mean that you are giving them the opportunity. It is to think about or reflect on what they have done. There is not a single instance of a young child emerging from a time-out feeling guilty. Or making a solemn promise to behave better in the future. They are usually more bitter and more motivated to avoid being caught the next time. Or to seek vengeance on the person who got them into trouble. Alternatively, they may be more driven to avoid getting caught the next time.

Foto: Ben White/Unsplash
Foto: Ben White/Unsplash

Being Consistent

Both time-out and quiet time are more effective when your kid is aware of what is expected of them. Therefore, you should constantly ensure that you follow through on demanding behavior. If your kid believes that they may be able to avoid the time-out or the quiet time. Then the effectiveness of these tactics is greatly diminished.

If you have a spouse, it is essential that you both utilize time-outs and periods of quiet time. It is in the same manner and in response to the same behaviors. You might also discuss the matter with your child’s teachers and caregivers. And make a strategy to implement time-outs or quiet times in the same manner.

Time Out Not Working

Alter the surrounding conditions. For instance, if you know that your kid is more likely to act inappropriately when they are sleepy, you should schedule your trip to the grocery store after their afternoon nap.

Make use of a diversion. When dealing with the behavior of a small kid. It is frequently possible to swiftly shift the child’s behavior without resorting to time-out. Or quiet time by making a humorous face or pointing out something fascinating.

If your kid doesn’t go into time-out or quiet time, you should resort to using penalties. You may say something to the effect of, “Go into time-out right now, or you won’t be able to have an outdoor session.”

Finally, you should seek assistance. If you are having problems handling really difficult behavior. You may benefit from seeking the assistance of a trained expert such as a psychologist or counselor. Consult your primary care physician or a child and family health nurse for guidance and a referral in this matter.

Do Time-Outs Prove to Be Beneficial?

When their child behaves out, most parents have resorted to using time-outs. However, there are many who believe that time-outs are forms of punishment. That force children to cope with difficult feelings on their own. They like what is known as “time-ins.” As the kid begins to feel more at ease, this is the time for the parent or other caregiver to demonstrate their love. It is for the child and ensure they feel understood.

At certain points in their lives, both of these might be helpful to parents. When children no longer get attention for engaging in undesirable conduct. The concept behind time outs is that they will be less inclined to engage in such behavior in the future. The youngster learns that throwing a fit won’t get them what they want. It is when they are denied the attention that they need as a result of their behavior. The use of time-outs has been deemed safe by specialists.


Attempting to have a discussion or spend “time in” with the kid in the midst of the child’s disruptive behavior. It may result in a fight between you and the youngster. After the kid has calmed down. It is often a better time to talk about what occurred and different strategies for coping with intense emotions. It is of much more significance to lavish praise on your youngster whenever they exhibit positive behavior.

Last but not least, it is essential for parents to be aware that adjustments. It is in behavior do not take place overnight. It will take some time, and there is a decent probability that there may be some obstacles along the road. That might be challenging for parents, but if you stay committed to the strategy, things will start to look better.


Even while “time out” may be a useful tactic for kids when it’s utilized in the right way. It’s not the only kind of punishment that should be employed.

Key Takeaway


When it comes to disciplining their children, parents need a wide range of options at their disposal among which Time-out is one option.

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