Many parents and grandparents use “time-outs” to remove a misbehaving child to a quiet setting before a no-win situation escalates.

Many parents and grandparents use “time-outs” to remove a misbehaving child to a quiet setting before a no-win situation escalates. Although a time-out may seem trivial to an adult, it’s remarkably powerful for a child. He’s learning that there are consequences of his misbehavior without giving him the negative attention that comes with being yelled at or spanked.  Here are some guidelines:




Time-outs should be used sparingly, not when a child is having a tantrum and not for everything a child does wrong.

The rule of thumb is to use one minute per year of a child’s life as an appropriate length for a time-out.

Because a young child’s attention span is so short, time-out should be implemented as soon as the behavior occurs.  Be willing to follow through on your warnings, even if you’re inconvenienced.

Be kind but firm. Tell the child briefly what he did wrong and what the preferred behavior is but save further discussion until after the time-out. Take the child to a quiet place away from the mainstream of activity; he could sit on the floor, on a chair or on his bed.

Some people use timers so when a child asks “how much longer?” you can say that the buzzer will go off in whatever time is left.

When the time-out is finished, give your child a hug and let him know it’s over and you’re not angry anymore.

Saralee Jamieson is a Human Development Specialist with MU Extension. For more information, contact her at 417-646-2419 or jamiesons@missouri.edu.