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Disciplining your child through time-outs

Using time-outs can be a very effective way of teaching your child discipline. But there are certain steps you should take to ensure your time-outs are indeed teaching a lesson.

Child in time-out

Giving your child a time-out can be an effective way to discipline your child, but you need to ensure you’re using them effectively. Here are some key things to make sure your child will benefit from being given a time-out.

Keep your cool

When you give your kid a time-out, part of its effectiveness lies in depriving your child briefly of attention. This has to include you being calm and collected. If you get angry and show your emotions, this is, in a way, still giving your child attention — they can see the reaction they’ve excited in you. So stay in control and at an even keel.

Time-outs have to be distinct from the usual pastimes

In effect, time-outs include briefly giving your kid less attention and less happy, fun time. And so, in order for them to stand out, time-outs need to differ from how the child’s time is usually spent. If there’s little change from how you usually spend time together and interact, well, you can see how a time-out won’t teach your child a lesson.

Give them very little mind during a time-out

Avoid talking with or looking at your child during the time-out. Tidy up, do chores or make your grocery list; occupy yourself so that you’re paying them no mind. If they don’t stick to the rules of their time-out — sitting quietly for the duration of the time-out — let them know their time-out won’t be considered completed until they’ve quietly sat there for the time allotted. And that should be fairly short; after all, you don’t want their mind to wander. After too much time, the child may forget how they misbehaved in the first place.

Be consistent with giving time-outs

In order to learn from their mistakes, you need to ensure you give your child a time-out each time they act out and misbehave — and the time-out should be given immediately following the bad behaviour. Don’t let things slide some of the time; if you do, your time-outs become less effective at teaching them what bad behaviour is.

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