Tag Archive for: time-outs

You’re probably tired of telling your child ten times to do something. It takes a great deal of energy to argue with kids.

Yelling at kids has been shown to potentially cause damage to a child’s self esteem. It can also teach kids that they should yell and argue when they are angry.

I recommend using time-outs for children who are 12 and younger. A time-out is time for the child to think about what they did wrong. It is used to stop bad behaviors, such as temper tantrums, arguing, and not listening. It’s also time for you as the parent to cool off as well. I recommend the 1-2-3 Magic, Managing Difficult Behavior in Children DVD, by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. as a good method.

How it works: After you have given your child a “prompt”, such as, “its time to come to dinner”, “turn off the game”, or “stop arguing”, if your child has not responded, you say:

That’s one

You don’t repeat yourself, threaten, bribe or yell. If they listen, your done. If they don’t:

That’s two

Again, no arguing, convincing, lecturing, yelling, etc. If they still don’t respond:

That’s three, take a time out

General recommended length of time-out is based on their age. A five your old has a 5 minute time out for example.

RULE: During the time-out, do not talk to them, lecture them, tell them what they did wrong, threaten that if they don’t listen, their punishment will get greater. Let them cool off. Let yourself cool off.

Getting out of time-out: Finally, at the end of the time, go to their room and ask them why they are in a time-out. We want them to learn to accept responsibility for the poor choice and identify the correct choice.

Likely, they will say, “I don’t know”, or, “because your mean.” At that point, turn as if to leave the room and say, “I guess you’ll need a little more time to think about why your in time out.” I anticipate that they will then immediately tell you an acceptable answer. If not, give them a hint or more time to think about it, depending on their age.

After the time-out, they should not be in further trouble. They should still have to do what you asked them to do.


Good luck, have patience, and please have both parents be consistent with this technique.