How To Give A Time Out

As frustrating as kids can be, time outs don’t have to be.  When attempting time out with a child who is constantly getting out of time out or refusing to go into time out, keep in mind the things about them you like.  Remember how much you love them, how cute they can be, and the last time they said something so sweet to you that you had to post it to facebook and tell all your friends.  If all else fails..give YOURSELF a time out.  Make sure your child is safe, and go in the other room for a few moments if you have to.

ASK YOURSELF: Is my child able to understand what they did wrong.  Young children and children with developmental delays sometimes don’t understand what they did wrong.  Time out isn’t going to work for a 5 month old, for example, who has no idea what they did was wrong.

Step One: Get on your child’s level and tell them what they did wrong and what you would have liked for them to do instead.

Step Two:Listen to their story, if they are able to tell you.   Make a decision as to if you believe them or not.  It is important that children feel heard, even if you don’t believe them.  Being heard and being believed are two different things.

Step Three: Tell them they are to sit on time out, tell them how long they will be there (usually one minute for each year, so for a 2 year old= 2 minutes, a 5 year old would have 5 minutes on time out).

Step Four: Set a timer.  Let them hate the timer, not you.

Step Five: If they get up, talk back, scream, yell, etc.,  start their time over. (unless they  have to go to the bathroom, in which case you can “pause” their time).  If they continue to get up, keep your calm, and just continue to put them back on time out without saying a word to them (and don’t forget to reset the timer, because every time they get up, the timer gets reset).

Step Six: When their time is over, go up to them, kneel down to their level, look them in the eye and ask them if they are ready to talk.  If they are not ready, they can sit on time out until they are ready (they can let you know politely they are ready to talk).  When they are ready, have them tell you why they are on time out.  If they don’t know, you can tell them, but make them repeat it back to you.  Also ask them what options they had instead of the negative behavior.

Step Seven: Give them a hug or high five and forget about it.  Their time is done and they shouldn’t have to keep hearing about the behavior.

If you have difficulty, you can always ask a professional for help.  Therapists who work with children are trained on these sorts of techniques and can make adjustments that fit your specific needs.  If you are in looking for a children’s therapist in Long Beach, please give me a call.

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