Locations and Other Keys to Effective Time-Outs

Empty chair in corner

Choosing the Right Place for Time-Out

If you decide to use time-out as a consequence, it’s important to choose a good time-out place in the home. Think about the following when you are picking a time-out spot:

  • Choose a time-out place that is away from toys, people, windows, TVs, radios, and anything else your child likes.
    Your child’s bedroom is not a good place for time-out. The bedroom often has too many things in it your child likes.
  • If you need to use the bedroom as a time-out area:
    • Remove the toys from the room
    • Often, the best place for time-out is at the end of a hallway. This area is usually away from people and things in your home that your child likes.
  • If you use a separate room:
    • Make sure it is safe and your child does not have access to things that are breakable or can cause harm, like chemicals or detergents.
    • Do not turn off the lights during time-out and never use a closet. You don’t want to scare your child. The goal is to remove all attention and fun things so your child does not like going to time-out.
    • Do not leave your young child unsupervised for long periods of time. Stay nearby so you can monitor what is happening.
  • Sit in the space yourself.
    One way to decide if a place is a good spot for time-out is to sit in the space yourself. Stretch out your arms and legs. Make sure that your child cannot hit or kick the wall. Being able to kick or hit the wall may be fun for your child. If you cannot touch anything, your child will not be able to touch anything either.

The Time-Out Chair and Other Alternatives

A time-out chair is the most common place parents identify for time-out. An adult-sized, wooden kitchen chair often works best. If you use a small, child-sized chair, your child can easily move the chair around. It is important for your child’s safety to choose a sturdy time-out chair that he cannot rock or move. Try to avoid chairs that rock, chairs with soft cushions, and chairs with pictures and graphics on them. Remember, this is a time-out from things your child likes.

If a time-out chair is not available, you can use other items like a small blanket or mat to show your child where to sit on the floor for time-out. You can also take these with you in case you need to put your child in time-out away from home. Keep an eye on your child to make sure she does not start playing with the blanket or mat if you use them instead of a chair.

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