Select Page


Timeout is described as brief isolation from desirable stimuli after a kid showcases some undesirable behavior. For instance, if a kid is violent to pets, a parent may ask the kid to sit in a corner, away from their toys, television, siblings, and friends for a short period. It is good to ensure the timeout spot is quiet, boring and free from distractions. That is how you can achieve the best results and engineer behavior change in your child.

Parents have been searching for appropriate ways to handle their children’s misbehavior. Each method of handling children’s misbehavior is received and perceived with mixed reactions from the parents, and psychologists. Time-out is not left out. Some parents and psychologists will swear by timeouts, while others would rather have any other way of rectifying undesirable behavior, than employing timeouts.



The whole idea of timeout, which at times are referred to as timeout from positive reinforcement,’ is to teach the kids to associate bad behavior, with withdrawal of positive reinforcement.Timeouts work effectively when the kid is raised in an environment with positive reinforcements, such as toys, programs they love, their pets, friends, or even snacks they love. These positive reinforcements are referred to as time-ins.’ The kid grows associating time-ins with positive behavior. Whenever time-ins is withdrawn, the kid may strive not to misbehave again, so that they may have access to what they love. When isolated for a brief time, a child may meditate upon their misbehavior, and decide to change it, so that they are not isolated from the things they love.

Edward Christophersen, the author of Beyond Discipline: Parenting that Lasts a Lifetime,’ proposes the use of time-outs, for he explains that timeouts teach the kid to associate good behavior with positive reinforcement. Christophersen insists that timeouts will be ineffective if the environment a kid is raised in is not nurturing, and has no positive reinforcement. Therefore, parents and teachers should ensure that their children have time-ins, to ensure timeouts work effectively if need be. He further insists that if a parent says that time-outs are ineffective, it can be a sure sign that they are not raising their kids in a stimulating and nurturing environment, which offers positive reinforcement for desirable behavior.


Timeout can be effective when it comes to eliminating or reducing undesirable behavior. They are also effective when it comes to reducing the non-compliant, aggressive and violent behavior. Triple-P Positive Parenting Program, evidence-based parenting programs, which has been used in over 35 countries worldwide, recommends the use of timeouts to rectify undesirable behavior in children. The program has found out that timeouts effectively reduce the occurrence of misbehavior. Furthermore, Triple-P proposes the use of timeout for it cuts down the risk of children suffering from anxiety and depression. Yelling or spanking a child may send them into depression.

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages the use of ignoring, isolation, and removal of some parental attention, for a brief moment in order to correct misbehavior. When a child is isolated from parental attention, and other things they love such as toys or pets, they will most probably rethink their bad behavior, and decide to work on changing it.

If a kid is spanked, they are most likely to comply with and respect the rules for a short while, only to turn out to be aggressive later on. Spanking and corporal punishment are aggressive forms of punishments. Aggressive punishment will brew an aggressive personality, and you sure do not want to have an aggressive teenager in the house. Timeout, which are a gentle form of punishment, will see the kid develop a mild and loving personality. In fact, many kids will not see it as a punishment, but as a way of helping them meditate upon their misbehavior. Research conducted in 1990, which was published in the book “Straight and Devious Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood” strongly discourages power-assertive punishments for they tend to brew aggressiveness. It encourages timeouts, which effectively delivers positive results when it comes to changing behaviors.

Timeout is an effective way of helping kids have some self-control in them. They will effectively learn things to do and avoid, without you as a parent necessarily picking at them.

WHAT ELSE? timeout

Timeout is not only good for your kids, but to you too as a parent. Kids, especially below the age of seven crave constant attention from their parents. They would want you to play around with them, read them stories, and even carry them around. These are good bonding moments for you and your kid, but they can be very overwhelming, for you will barely have some time for yourself. So giving your kid timeouts when they misbehave may give you a chance to recollect yourself, as the kid meditates upon their misbehavior.


Many psychologists who oppose the timeout method will swear by a parent reasoning out with their children concerning the children’s misbehavior. This works effectively only if the child is not defiant, or if he or she is already a teenager. However, it may not be an effective long-term solution. Timeouts come in handy whenever you are trying to rectify defiance. Reasoning out with the kid is a more lenient punishment, and may not work as expected.


If a parent is not careful in administering timeout, they may end up reinforcing the negative behavior. For instance, if a kid cannot settle down during a church service, and insists on going to play out, a parent should not offer them an escape option. Do not give him a timeout in your car, you will have offered them an opportunity to escape the church service, which they do not like, and they would gladly take it. Only offer timeouts when there are no other fun options. Because having them in the car and not in church is obviously more appealing to them.


As a parent, you should know when to administer a timeout. You cannot administer timeout for a kid who has failed to perform a task they never learned. For instance, you should give a timeout to a three-year-old who never learned to make their bed. Instead, take the initiative of teaching them bit by bit on how they should make their bed. After the kid learns to make their bed, ensure that it becomes their habit to do it on time. After they have acquired the skill, and fail to make the bed one morning, you can administer timeout. Do not administer timeouts if the kid does not know what to do, or the alternative positive behavior that you desire them to showcase. Give them timeouts when they know what to do, and they fail to do it, or when they show defiant behavior. This applies to other skills such as sharing, being friendly to pets, and cleaning their room. The behavior should be age-appropriate too. For instance, expecting a 3-year old to keep their room in perfect order is not realistic.


You should put it out clearly why the child is getting a timeout. Do not just give them a timeout. Ensure they understand why they are getting a timeout. Besides, let them know what alternative behavior you want them to have. Christerphersen explains that it is easier for the kid to understand their misbehavior, and rectify it when short terms or phrases are used. For instance, instead of giving long stories, just tell them “No hitting pets.” You can take the initiative to explain why they should not hit pets after the timeout.   Give a timeout immediately misbehavior occurs, or as it is still occurring. Do not wait until you finish a task you are performing so as to administer a timeout. Timeouts work more effectively when they are done immediately afterward. The memory of kids is usually short. If you take time and opt to punish them later, they may not understand why you are punishing them. They may end up despising you for punishing them for no reason. Dr. Fisher, a co-author of The Art of Empowered Parenting: The manual you wish your kid came with insists that timeouts should be administered immediately afterward. He advises parents to device timeout options even when not in the house. For instance, he says, if a child misbehaves at a park, you could isolate them at by asking them to sit on an isolated bench for some time.

As we have stated earlier, time is a crucial aspect to take keen interest in when giving timeouts to kids. Dr. Pearson, author of s Anybody in Charge? A Guide for Managing Children and Teaching Them Self-Control advises  that one minute per year are ideal length for punishment. For instance, 2 minutes are enough for a 2-year-old while 6 minutes are enough for a five-year-old. He further advises that if you find the time, you can add a few minutes, which is equivalent to half the age of the kid. For instance, if you find four minutes to be little for a four-year-old, you can add 2 minutes and have them in a six minutes time-out. The first thing to keep in mind while administering time-outs is that the period should be brief, preferably a maximum of 15 to 20 minutes. Locking a kid up in their bedroom for 3 hours can cause more damage than good.


After the timeout session, ensure you quickly talk to the child, and ask them whether they understand why they were given a timeout and whether they understand want they what kind of behavior you expect from them. It is important to remain calm and gentle while talking to the child. Yelling at them will do more harm than good.


No doubt, timeouts work well for kids under the age of ten. If you administer a timeout to a 13-year-old, it may not work effectively. Timeouts are just mild for older children. In fact, you may reinforce the behavior, since the older children may conclude that nothing serious will be done to them if they misbehave. Withdrawal of certain privileges works well for older kids that timeouts do. For instance, instead of giving a 13-year-old a 15-minutes timeout for picking a fight at school, you could decide to take their phone from them for a week.


Some psychologists argue that timeouts weaken the bond between the children and their parents. If a child is isolated in a corner or at a bedroom, they may come to a conclusion that they are being rejected, or their parents do not love them. They may feel disconnected from their parents, and end up excluding their parents from their lives. Besides, if the kid is denied access to their toys that they love for a brief moment, they may feel like their parents do not want to play, or they may feel unloved.

Some psychologists argue that timeouts fail to acknowledge individual differences in children. For instance, some children may find it annoying and inconsiderable whenever they are isolated from the things or the people they love. They would prefer being talked to and move on. So despite providing effective results, timeouts may not work for every kid.   Some psychologists argue too that most parents use timeouts, just to calm themselves down for from the overwhelming behavior of the children, and not to help the kid rectify the behavior. Well, it is important that a parent calms down so that they can have the zeal to bond with the kid after they are one with their time out.


In conclusion, as long as time-outs are done appropriately, they can be a very effective method of controlling, or eliminating bad behavior. Despite being controversial on whether or not they are effective for changing misbehavior, their advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Other than being an effective way of punishing a kid, it is way better than yelling at a kid or spanking them. Any parent who seeks to offer an effective yet friendly punishment for their kids should use timeouts. In case a kid does not respond to timeouts, it is advisable that a parent seeks professional advice or recommendations from pediatricians or psychologists.

Until Next Time,

Amanda Maxwell

Pin It on Pinterest