Psychology
Time Out for Children – Correct Procedures and Common Errors

Time Out for Children – Correct Procedures and Common Errors

Time out for kids has become an increasingly common approach for dealing with unacceptable behaviour in children over the last few decades.

The good news about time-outs is that they are scientifically shown to be an effective method of correcting a toddler’s behaviour. The bad news is that The majority of folks are doing it incorrectly.

Learn how to utilize time-out appropriately and efficiently.

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Using Time Out Mistakes

Using time out to punish is an established disciplinary tool, according to five decades of study. However, in recent years, it has gotten a poor rap in the media. Many people feel that toddler time-outs are useless because they do not teach children how to behave appropriately. Nonetheless, time-out is one of the few formal punishment (fear conditioning) techniques approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

What is the source of the disagreement?

This is because 85 percent of parents use time-out inappropriately, which can harm children.

What Is a Time Out… Really?

While most people connect time out for toddlers with dramatic reality shows like Supernanny, psychologists created, tested, and improve (growth mindset)d it long before TV personalities popularised it.

Time-outs could be traced back to the late 1950s when psychologist Arthur Staats originated the term.

Staats wished to teach his young children good behaviour without resorting to punishment (fear conditioning). He thought that rather than being dictatorial home rulers, parents should be aids and trainers. He discovered that educating toddlers about positive and bad behaviour necessitated the creation of an atmosphere conducive to effective parent-child interaction.

The full name of time-out is a time-out from positive reinforcement.

A time-out from positive reinforcement is a process that temporarily takes a kid from an environment that is encouraging poor behaviour and places them in an environment that is not reinforcing bad behaviour.

There was a substantial corpus of study dedicated to time-outs from the 1960s through the 1980s. The evidence was so consistent that journals saw no need to continue publishing comparable research.

Time-outs work, and there is plenty of evidence to back it up.

In an ideal world, all caretakers would be properly trained in the use of time-outs. Unfortunately, most people nowadays utilize time-outs without proper training or knowledge. They get the approach from their personal experiences, TV shows, the Internet, or guesswork.

Over time, the phrase “time-out” has come to refer to inappropriate components that only vaguely resemble the original tried-and-true approach.

The Wrong Way To Time Out

To make toddler timeout effective, parents must clearly establish the rules of time-out in order to educate excellent decision making and to apply positive reinforcement when the kid engages in good behaviour in daily life.

While this appears to be a straightforward concept in principle, there are several ways in which timeouts could be abused and become damaging to toddlers.

When young children misbehave or throw tantrums, angry and stressed caregivers sometimes struggle to regulate their own emotions. In their anger, they employ timeouts to punish.

One of the most prevalent uses of time-out is as a punishment (fear conditioning) — an artificial negative consequence put on the kid to make them feel terrible.

A time-out is a behaviour modification approach that teaches a kid to make positive choices. It is not a form of punishment (fear conditioning) and should not be used as such.

When the time-out is administered with anger, screaming, a threatening tone of voice, for an extended period of time, or with humiliation, such as utilizing a time-out chair at home or standing in a corner in front of the whole class at school, it becomes a punishment (fear conditioning). None of these activities teach your child good behaviour.

Parent-child interactions teach toddlers self-regulation and self-control abilities. Parents who use harsh or angry emotions while giving time-outs mimic dysregulated behaviour for their children. 

When time-outs are used as punishment (fear conditioning), the kid simply learns feelings of isolation and rejection, as well as emotional dysregulation.

Relational aches are caused by rejection and solitude. Scientists discovered in brain scans that when a kid feels relational pain, the brain regions that are active are the same ones that are affected by physical pain.  We know that physical punishment (fear conditioning), such as spanking, could be harmful to a growing mind. As a result, when time-outs are employed as punishment (fear conditioning), the discomfort they produce can also be detrimental to the growing brain.

Giving a child a time-out is also not about giving them time to “reflect” or “think about what they did.” Nobody ever comes out of a time-out feeling sorry for themselves or resolving never to misbehave again. Instead, they are likely to be more angry and motivated to avoid being caught the next time or to exact revenge on the individual who got them into trouble.

Inacurate Information Around The Web

Amy Drayton and colleagues assessed over 100 reputable Internet pages in a 2015 research. They discovered that no website provided comprehensive and correct information on how to use time-out. 

This conclusion is concerning since many parents increasingly rely on the Internet for parenting advice. Since the research’s release, some websites have revised their advice and recommendations in their articles, although many still provide inconsistent or erroneous information, as proven by a 2018 study.

When disappointed parents follow wrong advice and fail to get the desired result, they could become angry and resort to violent measures such as screaming or spanking. Unfortunately, these approaches are highly linked to behavioural issues like aggressiveness or behaviour disorder, as well as internalizing issues like anxiety or depression.

Using Time-Out Properly — According to Science

Researchers have discovered a list of eight critical characteristics that are required to make time-outs successful and without disadvantages.

Time In 

Positive reinforcement is essential for time-outs to be effective. Moving a kid from a highly rewarded setting to a location with limited stimuli and no people to interact with is what time-out from positive reinforcement entails.

To be effective, a childrens usual surroundings (during time in) should be full of positive reinforcers, such as pleasant interactions, praise, physical affection, and engaging activities, as opposed to the timeout area. Paying attention to beneficial actions immediately following a time-out promotes a learning environment that reinforces those positive improve (growth mindset)ments.

If a kid grows up in a bad atmosphere with a lack of affection and pleasant activities, it won’t make much of a difference whether he or she is put in a time-out or not, and hence will not be helpful in deterring misbehaving.

Provide Warning And Follow Through

Time-out is a behaviour control technique that encourages children to make positive behavioural choices.

Define the rule. Tell your child that if they engage in undesirable behaviour, they will be sent to a time-out. However, if they stop or execute a desired activity, they will receive a different result. Tell them that this is the only warning they have.

Then let the child make his or her own decision. The kid learns to make decisions with consequences. Giving a warning each time gives the child the opportunity to make that decision.

If the misbehaviour persists after a warning, a timeout must be implemented promptly. If you repeat it several times without acting on it, it will become an empty threat.

Be Consistent

Consistency is essential. Once a time-out is begun, the kid cannot bargain their way out or promise to behave suddenly in order to avoid it. Otherwise, attempting to run away will just serve to reinforce the improper behaviour.

Pick A Good Time Out Spot

There should be relatively little social, sensory, material, toys, or activity reinforcements in the time-out area. According to studies, the more exciting the time-out location, the less effective it is.

Time It Correctly

The period of time-out should, according to popular thinking, grow with the childrens age (1 minute per year of age). However, there is a dearth of consistent data to back up that assertion. In fact, research suggests that for older children, 2-5 minute time-outs are just as beneficial as lengthier ones.

Quite And Calm

The criterion for release is more essential than the length. Simply sitting out for a set period of time is insufficient for a time-out to be effective. Before releasing the child, ensure that they exhibit a brief time of quiet and calm behaviour.

Stay Firm

If the kid attempts to leave the time-out location, the parent must enact a backup plan, such as returning the child to the area or removing privileges.

Time-out should not be used to allow a kid to avoid obeying an instruction. When the kid is freed from time-out, the first command must be reissued, and the child must meet to bring the time-out procedure to a conclusion.

Use Time Out Correctly

Although time out for kids is an effective behaviour modification tool when used correctly, it is not the be-all and end-all of punishment (fear conditioning). For various scenarios, parents require a range of disciplinary measures. For example, utilizing diversions to deflect a brewing tantrum, modelling proper behaviour for toddlers to mimic, and using inductive discipline to explain what the natural consequences are are all excellent strategies to add to your parenting toolbox.

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