A time-out is one of the most common methods of disciplining a child, and it can be very useful. But parents don’t always use time-outs effectively, says guest parenting expert Tanya Altmann, MD. If you’re inconsistent with time-outs or use them constantly or angrily, they may backfire, she says.
Altmann recommends thinking about the letters in the phrase "CALM DOWN" as you deal with a misbehaving child:
C- Calm, cool and consistent parent behavior.
A- Always respond to bad behavior promptly.
L- Loudly and firmly say, “No, we don’t (hit, bite, etc.).”
M- Move him to a safe and boring location.
D- Don’t lecture during time-out.
O- One minute per year of age.
W- Words that are age-appropriate to explain what he did.
N- Need to encourage good behavior with acknowledgement and praise.
If you’re in public and can’t find a good time-out spot, scoop up your child and head home. Avoid the need for time-outs by creating a safe, child-friendly home. Try to limit errands done with your child to one errand at a time.
One mom says that because of a long trip to the grocery store, leaving when her daughter acts up isn’t an option. She uses the store’s play area as an incentive for her daughter -- good behavior earns a trip to the play area, and poor behavior means no playtime at the store.
Another woman shares her mother’s tricks: Children who behave well earn stickers from the quarter machine at the front of the store. Bad behavior meant a time-out in the car with mom until they calmed down and she could retrieve the shopping -- and of course, no stickers. She notes that many sympathetic stores will hold a cart full of items for harried parents if they ask.
How do you use time-outs with your child? Do you use small incentives to help children maintain good behavior? Share your time-out and behavior strategies with the community.