For many parents, one of the most difficult days experienced is the day they realize that they need to start a more structured, more serious discipline plan. As I mentioned a few days ago, it is important that you and your partner go into a discipline plan with a method that you have agreed upon. Tailor your plan to your child’s needs and be sure both of you are able to consistently enforce the plan.
There are numerous discipline plans. Today I am focusing on the time-out method. I have always liked and followed the plan offered by Love and Logic. Today, I aim to give you the best parts of their method in addition to adding some strategies of my own. I believe that this method is very effective if you remain consistent.
Follow the below steps when using the time-out method of discipline:
- Communicate with your child that you will be using a new plan starting today. Let them know that when they make a bad decision you are going to put this plan into action.
- Designate a cue word or phrase. I like to use the word “bummer.” I simply say the word “bummer, ” and they know that they are going to time-out and that they have made a bad decision.
- Remove your child from the situation. Designate a place in your home, like their bedroom, or a corner for them to sit in. If you are out of your house, simply remove them from the situation where they cannot be distracted by their friends. Allow your child to sit alone for a few minutes. If they are throwing a tantrum, let them work it out on their own. It is very normal for them to be angry at themselves for making a bad decision. Calmly and authoritatively escort them to the designated area and leave them for a few minutes.
- Allow them to sit and calm down or think for a few minutes. Do not let them get up or leave this area until you let them. You may need to close the door and keep it closed by force (if necessary). Do not talk to them or interact with them in any way until they are out of time-out.
- When you are both calm, open the door and have a quick chat about the situation and why they were in time-out. “It is dangerous when…,” “It is never acceptable to hit/kick our friends,” “I need you to listen to me the first time I ask you to…” Tell them what response you expect in a situation, and ask them if they would like to try it again.
- Finish with some positive words. Tell them that you know they will make a different/better decision next time, or that you love them no matter what and will always help them in stressful times. Let them know that you care about them and their well-being and move on.
- Allow them to make the situation right. They can clean up a mess, apologize to a friend, show you that they know what to do. When they make the right decision, praise them.
Other tips to make it work
- Act immediately upon the situation. Do not wait until you get home or until there is someone else to enforce the punishment
- Use the time when your child is in time-out to regroup and calm down. A child’s misbehavior is equally frustrating for the parents. Give yourself a chance to make the best decisions for your child in a calm and controlled way.
- If you choose to give a warning, stick with it. No discipline method will work if you are not serious about acting upon your words. I think it is great to allow your child to make a good decision right then, but if they do not, stick with the plan.
Give your child a structured and controlled environment to live in. For many kids, guesswork leads to mistakes. As their environment and decisions become better-defined, their behavior improves. If you provide well-established boundaries as well as the consequences for straying outside the lines, they are more likely to choose to stay within those lines.
More information regarding the time-out method of discipline:
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