Several studies have shown that timeouts are an effective way of disciplining children and helping them to have more acceptable behavior. However, some people find that timeouts don’t work. Here are some solutions:
When a time out won’t work because your child won’t stay on it:
The best thing to do in this case is to first get your own emotions under control. Do not show anger or frustration or you will lose the battle of wills with your child. Instead, calmly and rationally put the child back on time out. If you have to, do it physically, by picking them up, and walking them back to their timeout location. If they still won’t stay, then you get to enjoy it with them. Sit with them in your arms and on your lap for the duration of the time. However, be sure that as you hold them you do not lecture or even discuss it with them, just sit there. If you do this enough times, they will learn to go to time out themselves without your assistance, and to stay on it.
When the child throws tantrums:
If your child is throwing a tantrum because they have been put in time out, it is important that you don’t give in to it and change the discipline. This teaches them that they do not have to have to serve their time. Instead, try the tactic of sticking with it. If they are out of control, you need to be extra calm. Ignore the tantrum, but do not ignore the fact that they need a timeout. Sometimes tantrums come after an inconsistent behavior from mom or dad. If you want your time outs to work, you have to have some sort of consistency for when you give them, and the duration. This means that the same behaviors should always warrant the same punishments, no matter how happy or angry you are. If hitting a sibling means time out on Monday, then hitting a sibling should mean time out on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well. If a child knows you are serious, and that the behavior they exhibit always renders them in trouble, they will be less likely to throw a tantrum.
When a child gets off time out and does the same thing:
Many parents feel that timeouts do not work because when it is over the child goes right back to the negative behavior. It can take time for time outs to be effective, and it may take some adjustments. If you put a child out for 2 minutes for fighting, and then when they get off and fight again, try 3 minutes the next time, then 4, etc. You have to find what amount of time works to motivate your child to try harder. Also, if you are not enforcing the timeout immediately, it will not be effective.
Keep trying, stick with it, and eventually, if done right, time outs will work.