Steps and Procedures in Timeouts

It is crucial that your child understand what behaviors will result in timeout.

Tell the child briefly (two sentences or less) that the consequence for a specific (be very specific) behavior will be time-out. Remain calm while saying this.

“Chris, move away from your sister. If you touch your sister again, even accidentally, you will have timeout.”

It is very important that your child understand which behaviors will result in a time-out penalty. Nor more than three behaviors at any time period can be penalized by timeouts. When your child breaks a rule that he/she knows has time-out consequences, don’t argue and don’t negotiate. Quickly and concisely remind the child of the rule and its consequences, then send him/her immediately to the timeout location.

“Timeout Chris. I warned you what would happen if you touched her again. Go to your room now for nine minutes.” Chris is nine-years old.

Chris yells, “It’s not fair. Rachel stuck out her tongue at me. You let her get away with everything. It’s not fair. It’s not fairrrr. You love her more than me.”

Chris proceeds to start kicking Rachel’s toys and aims a kick or two at a nearby chair.

State the amount of time he must stay in timeout

Remind him that if he is not calm at the end of the time-out, the time will be extended until he is calm.

You say, calmly, “Chris, go to your room. You must stay there until you have been calm for nine minutes. If you calm down now, you will be out in nine minutes.”

Remember to offer him an alternate acceptable behavior that he can use the next time he’s in the same situation.

What is an acceptable behavior in your family: telling you, asking his sister to stop, laughing at his sister?

Tracking Time

Place a portable kitchen timer, preferably a loudly ticking timer that rings at the end of the specified time, near your child for a tracking device.

This helps you be fair and consistent and will keep you from giving in early.

Better yet, it will stop persistent questions such as, “Is the time up yet?”

If your child leaves the timeout location, escort her back and reset the timer back to the beginning. Do this every time she leaves her time-out location early.

Important: One minute of timeout per year of age.

Jan Wilson

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