Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Time-Out - Topic Overview

Time-out is a technique used to teach young children how to control their behavior. Time-out is an opportunity for the child to calm down or regain control of his or her behavior. If your child has trouble sharing a toy, you may even decide to put the toy in time-out.

It works best when your child is old enough to understand. This is usually around age 3 years. Time-out also works best when the usual behavior of parents is to make frequent, brief, physical contact with the child when he or she is behaving as expected (an activity called time-in).

Time-out works best when your child is doing something he or she knows is not acceptable and just won't stop, such as hitting or biting. Time-out is not effective if it is used too often or if it is used for behaviors that are not within a child's control. For example, time-out is not appropriate for a child who accidentally wets his or her clothes instead of using the toilet.

Before you start a time-out:

  • Have a timer on hand.
  • Select a place in your home for time-out. It needs to be a place without distractions. Do not choose a dark, scary, or dangerous place. A chair in the hallway or corner of a room may work best.
  • Practice the time-out procedure with your child when he or she is in a good mood. Explain that misbehaving, such as throwing food or not sharing toys, will result in a time-out.

The time-out procedure includes telling your child why he or she is going to time-out. State only once, "Time-out for having a temper tantrum." Then:

  • Direct or take your child to the time-out place. If you need to carry your child, hold him or her facing away from you.
  • Set the timer for the time-out period. The rule of thumb is 1 minute for each year of age, with a maximum of 5 minutes for time-out.
  • At the end of time-out, say to your child, "Okay, time-out is over." Also, let the child know in some way that you love him or her, such as a hug.

While your child is in time-out:

  • Stay calm, and do not act angry.
  • Find something to do, such as read a magazine or talk with a friend on the phone.
  • Be sure that your child can see you and see what he or she is missing.
  • Don't look at or talk to your child.
  • Don't talk about your child.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    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
    child brushing his teeth
    Sipping hot tea
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    rl with friends
    tissue box
    Child with adhd