Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Positive Time-Out

    Reflection Time

    WebMD Feature

    March 27, 2000 (San Francisco) -- While some discipline experts have rejected the idea of time-outs, Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Time-Out, suggests modifying time-outs to make them a comforting experience. Children under 3 years old should not be placed in any kind of time-out, she says, but older children can have what she calls "positive time-outs." This means a child, often accompanied by her parent, goes to a "feel-good" place to calm down before trying to learn from the conflict.

    Have the child create the time-out place, stock it with stuffed animals and books, and call it by a name: the quiet-time spot or Hawaii. "Many people object that positive time-out is a reward for misbehavior," says Nelsen. "But a misbehaving child is a discouraged child. The most effective way to deal with misbehavior is to help children feel encouraged so their motive for misbehaving is removed."

    She suggests this approach: "Would it help you to go to your feel-good place now? Would you like me to go with you?" If the child says, no, the parent answers, "Fine, I think I'll go myself."

    Parents can model the value of a positive time-out, particularly with older children. Nelsen gives this example: Barbara's 9-year-old son had come home late and Barbara had been worried sick. When Rick appeared, she realized anger had the upper hand. She said, "Rick, I'm glad you're okay -- I've been worried. But right now I'm so upset that I need to take time out to calm down before we discuss what has happened."

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Article
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    Article
     
    hand holding a cell phone
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    girl being bullied
    Article
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow