Time out can be an effective strategy for toddlers and young children when used appropriately.
Time out is a great way to separate the child from a situation that is or has the potential to go wrong. When putting a child in timeout, try to make sure they are in a place that is not stimulating or interactive. Their bedroom or playroom can be too tempting for them to get up and play. The time out should be brief. A good rule of thumb is one minute for every year they are old (for example, a 3 year old would have a 3-minute time out). At the end of the time out, review why they got put in time out and what would have been a better choice.
Reviewed by Dr. Kristie Rivers, September 2020
Is there a recommended age to start using time outs? My son is almost 17 months old. He understands “No,” but I’m just not sure he would sit still for a time out or even understand what I was doing. Maybe he would understand it more than I think he would…?
My youngest just turned 2 and his “timeout” is his crib. This may not be what I should do, but it’s the only place I know he’ll stay put. And it’s only for a minute or two. He gets furious when I put him in there. But as soon as I walk back in there to get him he stops crying and I ask him if he’s ready to be a good boy and not do xyz (whatever he was doing). It works for us. I’ve heard he may start hating his crib, but it’s very rare he gets put in timeout and he’s been fine going down for naps and bedtime. I do need to start thinking about somewhere else though.
My son’s school does time out, but uses different words. They call it think time. I really like this because it makes it clear that the time is meant to step back and think about why they are there. We have started doing this at home, and it works great!
That’s awesome! I like “think time”. I wish some adults utilized the same policy. 🙂