Time out techniques
There are different ways you can use Time Out techniques and once you get the principles under your belt, you can try to tailor the techniques to suit your family.
- Don't lose your cool. The way Time Out works is that you don't give your child any attention while she's in Time Out. The withdrawal of your attention is the punishment, so if you yell at her while she's in Time Out, you'll actually be rewarding her with plenty of the very thing you're meant to be withholding - your attention. So stay calm, cool and collected while she's in Time Out.
- You need to have lots of 'time-in' before Time Out can be effective. Make sure that you have lots of enjoyable time with your child. Sometimes you'll have to work especially hard to do this if she's developed a negative way of dealing with those around her. But persisting here pays off because without the good times to think about, Time Out just becomes part of the everyday experience and loses any power for change it may have had.
- Time Out is time without attention. When you take your child to Time Out make sure that she knows how to time her Time Out. Use a clock alarm or an egg timer - but give her something she can measure her time with, otherwise it may seem to her that she's been forgotten about. When she is in Time Out, just go about your day as usual and ignore her until her time is up. Don't talk to her, don't engage with her in any way, but if she is too disruptive and noisy, tell her that you will be reseting the timer and Time Out will begin when she's quiet.
- Keep Time Out short and sweet. Try keeping Time Out to one minute for every year (a four year-old sits in Time Out for four minutes). Time Out is meant to reinforce that a misbehaviour is unacceptable, but with a long, drawn-out punishment you risk your child forgetting what she was being punished for and the whole point of Time Out being lost.
- When Time Out's over, let it go. Don't continue the punishment once your child has finished Time Out by remaining angry. Instead, ask for an apology, have a cuddle and move on to new, more enjoyable things together.
- Don't threaten Time Outs. There's nothing effective about endlessly threatening your child with a Time Out if you don't follow through in a timely manner, all your child is likely to learn from this is that she doesn't have to take your threats seriously as you are not going to make good on them. If you give your child a warning, and she persists with unacceptable behaviour, then you need to follow up immediately with a Time Out so there can be no mistaking the consequences of her actions.
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