Time Out Ideas for Kids: 10 Tips to Make it Work!

time out ideas

Sick of time outs getting you nowhere? Want to make the time your child spends in time out actually help them learn something? You’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for 10 time out ideas and tips that will help your little one understand and learn to correct their behavior!

Explain It First!

If your child is old enough to be placed in time out, you’ll want to tell them what it is before they misbehave. Show them where the time out area is when they’re being good, and let them know it will be a place they’ll have to go to if they misbehave.


Help Them Understand

Time out only works if your child knows why they’re in time out in the first place. Use reason and common sense to explain why they’re being punished. Afterward, you can ask comprehension questions to make sure they’ve understood.

Make the Length Right

Children should be placed in time out for an appropriate amount of time for their age. A good rule of thumb is one minute for each year of their age. So, if your child is four, they should be put in time out for a maximum of four minutes.

Have Them Apologize

If your child is in time out for bullying another child, have them apologize. Or, if they break a rule, have them apologize to you. Teaching them how to be accountable when they’ve made a mistake is an important lesson for childhood that will help them well into their adult life.

Get On Their Level

When confronting a child about something they did wrong, try to place yourself on their level. Kneel down so that you are at eye-level with them, and calmly explain why they’ll be going into time out. Staying calm and making eye contact is important, and lets your child know that bad behavior won’t be tolerated.

Use One Time Out Spot

Designate a corner of your home or a small chair as the time out spot. Make sure they can’t see the TV or play with any toys in the spot. If they try to move away from the spot, hold them there if necessary. Always use the same spot to avoid confusing your child.

Use It Wisely

To make time out be most effective, try using it for only the five behaviors you’re most looking to fix. If you place your child in time out every single time they misbehave, they may become confused about which behaviors will lead to them being put in time out. Behaviors like hitting, biting, throwing a tantrum, insulting people, and screaming in anger should warrant time out.

Have Them Reflect

Let your child know that time out is a place where they can think about what they did wrong. The aim of time out is to make your child realize what they did wrong and why it was wrong. If you stress the importance of reflection, not only will your child learn that their behavior is bad, but they’ll understand why it was bad and realize why they shouldn’t repeat it.

Do It Right Away!

Waiting to place your child in time out will teach them that there won’t be immediate consequences for bad behavior. Remember that children’s attention spans are much shorter than our own, and they may forget why they’re being punished if you wait too long.

Stick With It!

If you start using time out as a punishment and fail to follow through, your child won’t see time outs as a serious matter. This will make time out sessions ineffective and will encourage bad behavior. Stand firm, and always follow your time out routine.

I hope these time out tips have given you plenty of information on how to make it a learning experience, not a nightmare! Make sure to pin this in case you need a refresher at some point down the road! 🙂

time out ideas for kids

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