If used correctly, time out from positive reinforcement (or just time out) is one of the most effective techniques ever invented for improving children's behavior. Time out is simply taking the child away from all enjoyable activity for a brief period of time as a consequence for misbehavior. Some of the advantages of time out over other methods of discipline include:
* Time out teaches self-restraint, whereas spanking teaches aggression.
* It can be repeated as often as necessary, almost anywhere, any time. (Once you take away TV for a week, what do you do next?)
* The parent is able to stay calm and in control of their emotions.
* With the 1, 2, 3 approach (below), children know what is coming, so they usually comply and you end up putting them in time out less frequently.
How do you do time out?
For minor but aggravating behaviors, such as whining, tantrums, and arguing with peers:
1. Say, "That's one," wait five seconds and if they haven't complied say, "That's two," wait five seconds and if they still haven't complied say, "That's three; you are in time out."
2. Put them in a hard-backed chair, 1 minute per year of age.
3. Don't let them out until they are quiet for a full minute, so that you don't reinforce bad behavior.
For repeated or more serious behavior, don't give the one, two, three warning. Put them straight into time out.
What do you do when the child refuses to stay in time out?
There are several options:
* Restrain them in a chair from behind by wrapping your arms around their torso. Always stay calm, and say, "I'm not going to hurt you. I'll let go as soon as you promise to stay in the chair." This may sound cruel but it's better than a child out of control. It will likely not need to be repeated more than once or twice.
* Put them in a small, boring room with you present (e.g., a bathroom) and block their exit by sitting against the door.
* For children who are too big to restrain, give a lopsided choice; for example, say "Either you sit in time out for 10 minutes or you won't go outside for the rest of the day."