Steps to an Effective Time OutAgain, Supernanny really helped me shape the way I handle this discipline method and these steps are modeled after her Naughty Step technique. And for good reason: These steps, quite simply, work.
- Warning: When your child misbehaves, give a warning first. Let him know, "I asked you to stop taking your shoes off outside. If you do it again, you'll have to have a time out." Resist the urge to lecture or your message will be lost.
- Explanation: If your toddler ignores your warning, follow through and take him to your designated time out spot. When he is seated, explain why he is there. "I asked you to stop taking your shoes off and you took them off again. I'm setting the timer for 2 minutes and then you can get up."
- Set Timer: Set the timer (a common rule is 1 minute per year of age) when your toddler is seated and calm, then leave the area and do not talk to your toddler or give any attention during the time out. If your toddler gets up, return him to the time out spot (as many times as necessary) without talking. Reset the timer and leave the area.
- Second Explanation: When the timer goes off, return to your toddler and explain once more why he had to have time out: "I asked you to stop taking your shoes off outside but you did it again and that's why you had to have time out."
- Apology (optional but effective, see next page for why some parents don't like demanding an apology and why I think it works): Ask your child to say that he is sorry for misbehaving and accept the apology if it is offered in a civil tone of voice. If it's not, give your child a warning and give another time out if he doesn't give you a gently spoken apology.
- Affection: After you've received an acceptable apology, offer your child physical affection. Kisses, a hug, a pat on the back and an "I love you" help your child understand that no matter what his behavior is like, you always love and care for him.
- Forgive and Forget: After the process is over, move on from the situation. Let go of any anger, resentment and disappointment and let your child have a clean slate. Resist the urge to bring it up or carry on lecturing after the time out is over. Will your child misbehave in this way again? It's likely (especially if this is the first offense) but if you set up an expectation, it's a guarantee he'll act out this way again. Give him the chance to make mistakes and learn from them and one day you'll be very pleased when you see the behavior disappear. If you're still holding on to the misbehavior, however, expect that your child will do the same.