Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Announcements

Get the support and information you need for your behavior, development and health related questions.

For more information:
Health and Parenting Health Center
Raising fit Kids

Time for a timeout?
avatar
Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
Whether you're at home or out in public, there are many times when the best option for dealing with a misbehaving toddler is a "timeout" -- a few minutes of quiet time to calm down, and explain or discuss what happened. Remember that when using timeouts, it's important to carefully use these breaks. Too many or inconstant use of timeouts isn't helpful, and you may even create an unintended behavioral backfire.

Try the "CALM DOWN" memory trick to remember these tips for using timeouts:

Calm, cool and consistent behavior from you.
Always respond immediately to bad behavior by a child.
Loud and firmly say, "No. We don't _____ (hit, bite, fill-in-the-blank)."
Move him to a quiet, boring, safe place without toys or activities.

Don't lecture your child during a timeout. He won't hear you, especially if he's screaming.
One minute per year of age is an appropriate length for a timeout, or wait until he calms down.
Words that are age-appropriate to explain or discuss what he did wrong.
Need to encourage desired behavior and acknowledge when toddler is good.

These recommendations can be used at home or when you're in public. For example, at the park, look for a quiet, safe, boring place, such as away from the sandbox, but next to a tree. If this doesn't work, or there isn't an appropriate location (such as at the grocery store), simply scoop him up and go home.

Don't forget that for a "timeout" to work, you must also have plenty of "time-in" with your child. To avoid creating situations that may often end in timeouts, try to arrange your daily schedule to do one errand at a time, and make your home child-friendly and safe.

With a little planning, discipline and consistency in routine, I hope your need for timeouts will be few, but effective for everyone.

Do you use time-outs? How do you use them when you are at home or out in public? Do they work for your family?
Reply
 
avatar
phoenix31674 responded:
We use them at home, but not so much out. For me, living 30 minutes from the grocery store, just leaving when she acts up simply isn't an option. Plus if you have meat, dairy and other refrigerated items in the cart, they can't restock them for safety reasons. Grocery prices are high enough without adding to the waste. I will make her hold my hand no matter how much she fusses or cries. Same for shopping at the PX - leaving just isn't an option. I don't have the car every day. For the PX I can generally use the indoor playground as an incentive to behave. There have been times she has not been allowed to play there because of poor behavior.

It sometimes works at home, but when that seems to fail, she starts losing toys in addition to time out.
 
avatar
fiannakyn replied to phoenix31674's response:
Phoenix- I grew up where Town was a 35 min drive too, Here are the tricks my mom used on us
1) if we behaved, we got to get a sticker from the quarter machine at the front. (not a big incentive now, but back then- OMG STICKERS!!!)
2) if we were loud and during the important grocery trip, mom or dad would take who ever was in trouble, and make them sit in the car for a time out. If mom (or dad) was alone, we ALL got time out in the car (3 of us) and the cart was left at the service counter till she could bring us back in. AND we didnt get the sticker.

I also want to say if you HAVE to leave the grocery store mid shop, take the cart to the front to a cashier or service desk and they'll understand and get the refrigerated stuff put away before they go bad. some may even ask if you wanted them to hold it for you- they'll put the whole cart in one of the walk in fridges in the back. Most grocery employees are either parents themselves, or young enough to remember being the kid in trouble I also worked at a grocery store during college, and we did the cart in the fridge thing often for parents.
Vicky- Currently attending foster care training after TTC for 10 years. Lurking for research for when we do have a placement.


Helpful Tips

Help kids learn to swallow pillsExpert
I found this inexpensive but clever cup a few years ago, and it helped my kids learn to swallow pills without a fuss: ... More
Was this Helpful?
16 of 25 found this helpful

Expert Blog

Child Health 411 - Ari Brown, MD

Educated parents are empowered parents! Get clear answers to your parenting questions from Dr. Ari Brown...Read More

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.