There have been many debates over whether time out; removing your child from what he or she is doing or from their favourite things for a period of time, is an effective discipline technique.

People who debate that putting a child in time out works effectively for discipline argue that removing them from the situation in which they misbehaved and putting them in a quiet corner allows them to think about what they have done without any physical consequences.

However, many people including childrearing consultant Dr. Peter Haiman have argued that time out “is not an appropriate way for parents to cope with the misbehaviour of their children” for multiple reasons. Dr. Haiman argues that children often misbehave because their needs of love, attention or other reasons and so separating them from you can develop separation anxiety as their needs continue to be unmet. Thus, this in turn can create even more frustration and misbehaviour. Dr. Haiman also argues that this can cause more long-term effects such as skin scratching and nail biting, as the child can feel nervous, unloved and hurt by the separation.

If you are sure that your child’s normal needs are being met; they are nourished and have been given attention, love and have been listened to and they are still misbehaving, time out might still be an option if you think it’s the right thing to do. Nevertheless, what people on both sides of this debate agree with is that time out should only be used safely and positively.

Here are a few tips on how to use time out effectively.

The time-out room

Ensure that the time-out room is safe, well lit and comfortable. However, it shouldn’t have anything that could invoke interest or distract your child from thinking about what they have just done.

Period of time

The period of time that a child is in time out is age-dependent. For any age the time should be brief but try to keep a minute per year old. For example; a 2 year old should be put in a 2-minute time out.

Teach your child about what time out is and why it is used

Teaching your child clearly the rules of time out and why it is being used allows for them to understand exactly what is happening instead of feeling punished for nothing. Explaining that certain behaviours lead to them being put in time out also allows for them to understand what is happening more.

Be consistent and in the moment

It’s important to keep consistent and in the moment when using the technique. Using the technique for a misbehaviour your child has done hours ago will not work, as your child will most likely have moved on mentally and be unable to think about what they did.

If you are in public find a quiet spot around where you are where you can stand with your child and explain why this is happening.

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  • Time out was used regularly by myself. It allowed time for the situation to diffuse, so it was really for myself as well as the kids. Time to think and calm down before reacting


  • Sometimes time out gives you time to “cool down”. It also lets them know they need to stop what they were doing or saying. We have always used a corner where they sit,….not…. facing the wall. You can then take them to sit with you and talk to them calmly about why they did or said something. You may find out that they were upset about something else, and just didn’t know how to tell you. Sometimes it is something that genuinely upsets them and you may be able to reach a compromise. As they get older more time with open communication is very important.


  • i would only use the room option as a last resort so they can settle down and think because i don’t want to discourage them from sleeping in their room. a naughty corner is a better idea so then their room isn’t a place of punishment. also make sure there isn’t all things to play with in their room if you do send them there or they will be having fun instead lol


  • I love time out or “Go to your room for down time”. Works wonders in my house..


  • Time out works well if you use it properly.


  • Its a good idea Time out but I personally have never used it


  • I have read a lot of research about discipline and punishment and lke Dr. Peter Haiman, I belive there are more effective ways of helping children to understand and learn what is good behaviour and what is harmful and negative behaviour. On their own – what are they to think about? Worry why they have been sent away? Being empathetic and educating children is more effective then sending them away. I wouldn’t like it if my friends, work colleagues or partner sent me away to time out if they weren’t happy with what I’d said or done. I’d rather talk about it, say sorry and move on…


  • That’s an interesting read. Thanks


  • I must confess sometimes time out is just 2 minutes to stop me from exploding


  • for me they just get a longer spell in time out if the first time does not work, and the second one had normally done the trick, cause third is to bed, regardless of time of day


  • We didn’t use time out, a good taking to usually did the trick – every child is different though.


  • Great advice. Always an interesting topic.


  • Time out can be a good tool but should be used as a last resort. Try to deal with the behaviour or cause of the behaviour first.


  • thanks for the advice again


  • Learnt a lot here. Thank you.


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