Time Out

Southpoint is incredibly lucky to have Nate Ridge, a child psychologist, working in our office. Nate specializes in depression, anxiety, ADHD and behavioral problems. Today we asked him to give us a run down of how to effectively use time outs. Thanks, Nate!

Have you ever wondered why it is that you can get a manual for a TV, but there
does not ever seem to be a manual for your child? More often than not, parents
will ask themselves this question at the height of their child’s NONCOMPLIANCE
or AGGRESSIVE behavior. For these particular situations, time out is often the
best choice for handling these types of difficulties.

So what is time out and how do you effectively implement this at home or even in
public. I want to go over the top ten tips for implementing time out in your home:

1. Choose an area: Before using time-out, decide where the time-out chair/
area will be. Make sure it is free from any potentially dangerous objects
(outlets, glass objects) and out of reach of shelves, furniture. It should be
in a place where the child cannot watch television or play with toys.

2. Identify behaviors: Choose before hand what behaviors you will use for
time out (example: hitting).

3. Explain rules: Before you begin using time-out, explain to the child where
the time-out chair is, what behaviors will have time out as a consequence,
and how to get out of time-out (sitting calm and quiet).

4. Remember IMMEDIACY and CONSISTENCY. The child should be
placed in time-out each time the challenging behavior occurs.

5. IF and WHEN. Following the challenging behavior, tell the child what they
did and guide them to time out. For example, “You hit, time out.” Say this
phrase calmly and only once.

6. Never reason, negotiate, give explanations, or apologize: Remove any
toy in the child’s hands. If the child does not go willingly, take the child to
time-out, using as little physical guidance as necessary. Do not make eye
contact with the child, argue with, or reason with the child while they are
in time out. Remember, once you say time out, time out must happen so
your words mean something.

7. TIME: Generally use 1 minute per age of the child. However, remember
that time out begins when you child is cooperating and staying still and
quiet, not when the child is throwing a tantrum. The first few times you
implement time-out, your child may scream, kick, hit, or even try to leave
time out. IGNORE the tantrum and DO NOT allow the child leave time-
out. The child must learn that they will ALWAYS return to time out until
they cooperate.

8. Stay in Control: Never use an egg timer or tell you child “You can come
out when you’re ready.” You are always in control.

9. Stay Calm: Take a deep breathe and use positive self talk to remain calm.

10. Remember the relationship: While all of the above steps help make time-
out effective, what makes time-out extremely effective is that the child
realizes that there is a rift in your relationship. So it is important to find
something to praise once your child comes out of time out to let them
know that “We’re okay.”

While time out can be effective, there are many parenting tools at your disposal.
Remember, time out should be use infrequently and only out of necessity. If you
find yourself having questions, feeling that it is not working, or that you are using
time out too liberally or frequently, please do not hesitate to give me a call.


Dr. Nate

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