BookmarkBookmarkTick

Time Out for a Toddler?

Are time-outs a good discipline tool for toddlers?
ByElizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert
Updated
September 15, 2020
Hero Image

Time-outs can be an effective part of an overall discipline plan. Remember, the primary purpose of discipline is to teach good behavior. Merely setting your child on a step every time she misbehaves will not teach good behavior; you also have to model and discuss appropriate behavior with her.

That said, time-outs work best when they’re used as a method to stop a specific misbehavior and to help a child learn how to calm herself and control her behavior. Time-outs shouldn’t be used as a punishment.

In other words, many parents are using time-outs incorrectly! The time-out isn’t really meant to be a negative consequence of misbehavior. The time-out is meant to quite literally be time out — a time to stop and reconsider. When kids are in the midst of a tantrum, for example, they may find it hard to think clearly. (Heck, most _parents _have a hard time thinking clearly during a tantrum!) Giving a time-out to a child who is throwing things around the house does two things: it keeps her from damaging your stuff and gives her time and space to cool down.

Time-outs work most effectively when they’re used in a consistent manner. Your child (and you) should know, in advance, exactly what behavior warrants a time-out. You both should also know where time-outs will take place; a safe, boring location is best (avoid using a child’s bedroom, playroom or favorite chair for time-out — you don’t want to create a negative experience in a play space). Toddler time-outs should be short. Some experts recommend one minute per year of age, so a two year old would get a two minute time-out. Other experts recommend keeping your child in time-out until she calms down, which may be significantly sooner (or longer) than the one-minute-per-year rule of thumb. Use your own best judgment.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Related Video
Little girl counting colorful crayons.

Study Confirms Autism Develops Differently in Girls Than Boys

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
04/20/2021
Dad holds his toddler daughter on his shoulders while looking out over an outdoor landscape.

These Are the Best and Worst States for Raising a Child With Autism

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
03/30/2021
baby playing with ring toy

Decision-Making May Shape Babies’ Long-Term Preferences, Study Says

profile picture of Emma Gallo
Emma Gallo
Digital Content Coordinator
Published
10/27/2020

How to Set Rules for a Toddler?

profile picture of Elizabeth Pantley
Elizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert
baby sitting in mom's lap and watching tv

Child’s Temperament May Drive How Much TV They Watch, Study Says

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
08/07/2020
happy baby mimics her dad

Babies Are More Engaged and Friendly When You Imitate Them, Study Says

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
05/27/2020
Article removed.