And now without further ado, the answers to our Time-Out Pop Quiz!
How many times should you explain to a child why they are in time-out?
At least twice, when you put them into time-out and when you take them out. If they can explain to you why they’re in time-out, then have them tell you at the end of their time. Once the time-out is over though, don’t bring it up. If the behavior happens again, give your warnings and place them back, repeating the explanation.
Should you show them your anger when placing them in time-out?
Nope. It might not be possible to keep it entirely hidden, but do not act out of anger when possible. Plus time-outs can be a boon to you too. 5 minutes should be plenty of time for you to get yourself under control. Deep breaths.
What should you do if they get up before their time is up?
Put them back. Don’t talk. You should already have explained to them why they’re sitting. If they get up 15 times, put them back 15 times. If you asked them to sit in time-out, then you should definitely mean it!
How long should they sit? And is it imperative to use a timer?
You probably know the rule of thumb: one minute for every year. 5 minutes for a 5 year old. Not imperative to use a timer, but it keeps you honest and it’s harder to argue with then your arbitrary timing. Plus it ensures that you won’t let them off the hook early if they’re crying/upset or that you won’t forget about them while you go about your life.
What should you do if they cry, call your name and say they’re SORRY while in time-out?
Ignore them. You can talk to them about saying sorry at the end of their time-out. 5 minutes isn’t that long. You can steel yourself while they cry. You can do it.
What should you do if they cry, call you names and say they HATE you while in time-out?
Ignore them. Don’t heap more time on and don’t give them attention while in time-out. Don’t bring up the behaviors that occurred during the time-out if possible. They were simply trying to get you to react & if they were sitting where you asked them to be, then you can leave the room and simply take away their audience.
How should a time-out end?
I’m a fan of an apology either to the parent/caregiver or to a sibling if that was the cause of the time-out and then a hug (a la Supernanny). Once your kid’s time has been paid, you can go back to playing with them. Don’t make them feel guilty about it or continue to deny them your attention. The slate is wiped clean now.
What if they return to the same negative behavior immediately after being done with their time-out? Try another time-out, following the same steps. Depending on the age of the child, warn them (without yelling or being irrational) that if the behavior continues, they will lose a privilege like a favorite toy, computer time, etc. for the rest of the day.
So, how’d you do? A+? If not, no worries. Give these a try if time-outs are in your routine or if you’d like them to be. Take a minute or 5. Good luck!
Katie Robinson began her foray into behavior management long before she knew what it was called. Growing up with a younger brother with special behavioral and emotional needs was her first taste of the hard work that it takes to be successful at managing behaviors. A career that spans teaching middle school special needs students and social work, Katie's diverse experiences have led her to her newest venture: BW Kids Consulting. BW Kids Consulting affords Katie a ‘Supernanny’ style adventure of working with parents to help them help their kids to be their best selves. Check out her blog, Kid Whisperer!