Time Outs – How And When To Use Them

In today’s Parenting Tips, I am discussing Time Outs and how to use them.

Since Super Nanny Jo Frost first appeared on our screens, all parents know about Time Outs.  But in case you are unsure, here is my guide.

What is a Time Out?

Time out is a corrective consequence used to decrease negative behaviour.  When we use this practice, our children are removed from all positive attention in order to think about the rules they have broken.  Time Out is extremely powerful and works well for children between 3 and 12 years.

However, before we look at how to introduce Time Outs in your family let’s look at how anger works so you can see when is the best time to enforce a Time Out



time outs






You need to ensure that you are enforcing a Time Out just after the trigger and while the anger is escalating.  This will prevent an explosion and possible danger to either the child or other family members.

How to Set Up A Time Out

  • Decide on an appropriate place
    • not scary/dangerous
    • 2-3 years old in the bedroom/ 3-12 years old on a chair away from attention
  • Establish the appropriate length of time
    • one minute for each year
    • maximum of 15 minutes
  • Talk with your child about how and when time out will be used
    • family rule violations
    • blatant disrespect
    • extreme out of control behaviour
    • back up to confrontation
  • Talk with all other family members about how and when time out will be used


Time outs are to be used when logical consequences as discussed above have not been effective.  Time out will not be effective if it is used for more than two or three major rule violations.

  • Tell your child the reason/purpose for time out
    • state the family rule violation
    • state that time out is the consequence
  • Remain calm and follow through
    • use the first/then practice if necessary
  • Begin time out when your child is quiet and thinking about the rule/problem
    • minimise attention and talking
    • repeat “I’m waiting to start time out”
  • When time out is over
    • rule violation: remind your child of the rule and the consequence of breaking the rule again
    • back up to confrontation: ask your child if he/she is ready to comply with your request.  Continue the time out until the child says he/she is ready
  • Praise your child for the next respectful behaviour and when the family rule has been followed
  • Repeat time out each time the disrespectful behaviour occurs

How this helps to raise successful children

If you want to be successful in life, you need to understand actions have consequences and Time Out is a great way of teaching this to children.   Time Outs also focus on the desired behaviour rather than the unwanted behaviour by giving the child chance to think about different action they could have taken.  By focusing on the desired behaviour and giving praise after the effect, you are attracting more of the desired behaviour as per the Law of Attraction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about Time Outs.  Do you use them?  Are they effective in your family?

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