While it seems like an ideal solution, time outs are not always as effective as we’d like. For many parents, the expectation is that children will emerge from time out calm, cool and collected, while often times that isn’t the case. Whether they refuse to sit still or simply the outburst lasts long after the timer goes off, time outs don’t always do the trick.
A study from the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland revealed that upwards of 85 percent of parents are making mistakes when issuing time outs. Before you wash your hands of time outs and pull out your hair, try these time out tips to help avoid the meltdowns and mistakes.
Using Them for the Wrong Reasons Time outs are not a time to reflect on their actions. They are meant to separate the child from the misdeed before things escalate further. After the time out clock has buzzed, reflect with your children and try again.
Giving Your Children Attention The purpose of a time out is to separate your child from the situation. In many cases, children act out as a means of seeking attention. To increase the effectiveness of a time out, refrain from talking to your child. The goal is for your child to recognize that their behavior leads to loosing attention, not receiving it.
Using Too Often Time outs are most effective for young children who remain defiant. To optimize the effectiveness of a time out, it is important to only use them when necessary. If your child is whining or negotiating, consider alternatives such as positive reinforcement.
To make time outs more effective, consider this approach. When your child is not cooperating, issue only one clear warning and if they do not listen within 30 seconds, place your child in time out. Announce the time out and place your child in the designated area. While it is fine to offer an explanation before or after the time out, do not give one during. Removing all attention is much more effective.
Rather than placing your child in time out for longer periods, try brief time outs of 1 to 3 minutes. This time frame is especially effective for children ages 3 to 5 years old. After placing the child in the designated area, silently walk away and leave him with nothing to do but sit. No matter if your child has sat quietly or was fidgety, it is important to end the time out when the timer buzzes.
With proper execution and follow through, time outs can teach your children to listen. For other parenting advice and tips, please visit our Chattanooga pediatric after hours clinic at 423-648-6483.