Winter 2016 Issue
to Home Page PRINT PAGE
Tips on Time Outs
By Arnold Melnick, DO, FACOP
Interviewed recently by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Patty Huang, developmental pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, offered several tips to parents to use time-outs effectively and successfully. They are condensed here for the rest of us to use.
- Catch your child being good. It’s easy to ignore a child playing quietly – sending the wrong message that misbehavior is the only effective way to gain our attention.
- Be consistent. Choose one or two of the most problematic behaviors that will lead to a time-out – specific acts, not vague attitudes.
- Get on the same page. Parents and caregivers should be consistent in their interventions. Writing down their rules will be helpful reminders.
- Use the strategy only to reduce attention-seeking behavior. Using time-outs for other reasons will not be as effective.
- Use a simple phrase in giving the time-out. No long explanations, negotiations or arguments.
- Make the duration age-appropriate. About a minute for each year of age is appropriate and the child can stay calm for that time. Do not push for an apology to be released from a time out.
- Know when to discuss the behavior. Always after the time-out, not during – and calmly.
- Expect that attention-seeking behavior will increase at first. The behaviourwill decrease once the child learns that you will no longer respond except with a time-out.
Dr. Huang added, "To be effective, the child must have enough language skills, and thus time-outs should not be used prior to two years of age."
Photo credit cdc.gov