How To Put Kids In Time Out Without Needing One Yourself

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time outDeclaring yourself as a parent who doesn’t use physical discipline is easy, it’s figuring out how to teach your child to behave without resorting to spanking or screaming that that’s the hard part. As children get older and can understand consequences, taking away privileges or favored toys is an option, but trying to teach a toddler how time out works can be harder than try to herd cats. Here’s are some tips to make time outs work for your family.

1. Utilize time out for the correct length of time.

Child psychologist Dr. Polly Dunn addressed the question of how long time out should last on her blog. She recommends time outs last for one minute for each year of the child’s age, with an additional minute or two if the child is still not calm.

2. Have a designated time out area.

You don’t have to be at home to place a child in time out. As long as the area is as free from distractions as possible and in an area where you can supervise the child, a time out can be accomplished anywhere. The Children’s Health Network recommends a chair in a quiet corner of a room or even the child’s own bedroom (with strict instructions not to play with electronics for older children). If you are out running errands, the car or a bench or even standing by a tree are acceptable places– anywhere the child can be taken to calm down and get their behavior under control.

3. Use a time out bottle.

Experts say focusing on a object can help you calm down. If your little one gets really worked up when placed in time out, a time out bottle could help them settle down faster. Also known as a focus bottle or relax bottle, a time out bottle is essentially a water bottle filled with glitter and glue that works like an hourglass. You invert the bottle and hand it to your child when they go in timeout, the theory being that they will settle down by watching the glitter move to the bottom of the bottle. A popular resource for step by step instructions on creating a time out bottle can be found here, from Johanna Spaulding over at The bonus behind a time out bottle is that once the glitter has settled, the time out is over, so you don’t have to watch the clock to let your child know when they can come out from time out.

4. Know when to put your child in time out.

In speaking to,  Erik A. Fisher, Ph.D. said that young children should be placed in time out as quickly as possible once they’ve misbehaved. If you wait to finish up a task, that delay in time in conjunction with their short memories could cause them to forget what they did wrong and be confused as to why they are being punished.

5. End time out on a positive note to encourage better behavior next time.

Fans of the show Supernanny may remember this technique. When the time out is over, if you are calm enough yourself, explain to your child why they were placed in time out, ask them to apologize (or acknowledge their bad behavior) and offer a hug and a kiss. If your child is still upset, give them another minute to calm down before trying again.

(Olesya Feketa/