Parenting Timeouts By Age

Parents Administer Time-Out Discipline by Age for Ease of Parenting

Parents and Parenting: It is imperative that parents consider the child’s age when using time-outs for discipline. Time-outs work well for parents beginning when their child is about age two.

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Parents Consider Children’s Age When Using Time-Outs for Behavior Problems and Discipline

Jan Wilson

Parents and Parenting: Timeout procedures should be followed by all caretakers as well as parents. 

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When should parent start using time-outs? 

Experts agree that parents should wait until kids are  about two-years old to start time-out. 

Will parents use the same procedures for each age child?

No. Parents will find that time-outs are slightly  different for toddlers than for preschoolers, and different still for school-age children.

Parents Tip: Timeout procedures should be followed by all caretakers as well as parents. 

Having all caretakers use time-out adds consistency to the discipline procedure. There is probably nothing more important than consistency when expecting a discipline technique to work for a  child.


A parent’s first discipline approach is explaining a matter briefly to a toddler, then distracting them to other activities. This can be the first parental approach in the world of behavior.

Then comes time-out.

Parents can time-out temper tantrums and angry crying to get one’s way in a crib, bed or gated room. Continued time-out (one minute per age of child) after the child has quieted down is usually enough to teach the child that her/his unacceptable behaviors will not be accepted.

Sometimes toddlers fall asleep when they’ve been timed out. Wise parents let them nap. Their unacceptable behavior may have been caused by exhaustion.

Pre-School Children

Parents start with a time-out warning. If the disruptive behavior does not stop, parents ask the child to go to his/her timeout spot (assume that is the child’s room) unescorted.

Pre-school children who are reasonably compliant may or may not willingly go to their room when sent. After they have calmed down (quit crying, screaming, or storming around the room), parents start their time-out: one minute for each year of child’s age.

If they slam the door behind themselves, it is best that parents don’t respond. They will usually stop slamming on their own.

Parents will find that the less compliant child should be escorted to his/her room without the parent/caretaker’s loss of temper. Easy for me to say; sometimes hard for parents to learn.

School-Aged Children

School-aged children who are reasonably compliant may willingly go to their room when sent. Five to 10 minutes of quiet time are usually enough to settle them down. After they have settled down, parents start their one-minute-per-age time-out.

Other children who are not so compliant must be escorted to their room by a parent. Again, no loss of temper here.

Also, if they slam the door, parents should not respond. Eventually most children will stop slamming. However, if parents angrily remind them not to slam the door, they will probably continue to slam as long as they are being reminded.


More information about parents and parenting.


Parents Tip: All discipline must be consistent to work at an effective level.

Parents will find that time-out procedures change slightly as children age. The most important thing is that all caregivers, including parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, babysitters, etc.,  follow the same timeout procedures in order for the time-out technique to be consistent.

Additional information about parents and parenting.

Time-Outs Defined for Parents

Parents Consider Children’s Age When Using Time-Outs for Behavior Problems and Discipline

Parents Use Time-Out as Discipline to Stop Children from Disruptive Behavior

Parents Will Make Time-Out Errors

When Do Parents Use Time-Outs for Parenting Discipline?

How Do Parents Track Time for Children in Time-Out?

Time-Out Procedures for Parents to Follow

What Are the Best Time-Out Locations for Parents to Choose?

Parents Use Timeout with Physical Activity for Active Child or Kids with Behavior Problems

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