Does Time Out Work?

So, is Time-Out effective? Yes, but it must be done right. A recent study in the Academic Pediatrics journal looked at over 400 parents of kids aged 15 months to 10 years of age. They found that 77% of parents had used time-out, but that 85% reported at least one or more undermining techniques.

So here are the things that many parents “messed up” during the time-out episodes.

  • Multiple warnings before going to time-out. Now this is easy to do; you are pre-occupied with something else and Jr. misbehaves…testing you….and he knows you are busy with something else so maybe he can get away with it this time. You have given him several mindless warnings, but he won’t stop the behavior until he has your undivided attention to enforce time out.
  • The second most common mistake was talking to the child during time-out.
  • The third mistake was letting the child have toys, electronics, books and other people to entertain during time-out. The purpose of time-out is for the child to have isolated alone-time to either process why the previous behavior was unacceptable, or to have time for the little brain to regroup and get into control.

So, the recommended time-out procedure is the following:

  • Give one warning with a short reason for the time-out, such as “no-hitting”. Immediately follow-through.
  • When in time-out, there should be no stimulation with the child.
  • If the child tries to escape, return him or her with as minimal interaction, but insist that time-out is completed.

Now there are various themes on these basics that you may need to adjust, depending on your special child. Perhaps the take-home is to avoid pre-occupation with as many other things so you can be pre-occupied with that special kid. Give ‘em a hug… after time-out.

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