What is a Kid's Time out?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 June 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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The concept of placing a disobedient child into a kid’s time out has become a popular approach to correcting children. As with any type of correction, the goal of a kid’s time out is to help the child develop social skills that make it possible to function within the family and ultimately with people in all sorts of social situations. Here are some of the ways that a kid’s time out can be a productive and helpful means of discipline for your child.

One of the key benefits to a kid’s time out is that it helps to reinforce the importance of observing the rules of the household. When a child chooses to engage in fighting with siblings, the use of a time out serves to remind the child that fighting is not something that is allowed among family members. Administering a time out and making it a point to convey to the child that their choice of action is why the time out is imposed helps to remind the child that there are expectations for behavior that must be met within the family circle.


A kid’s time out can also be appropriately used when a child refuses to do something that he or she has been asked to do by a parent or caregiver. By placing the child in a time out, there is the opportunity for the child to learn there are consequences associated with every action we take. When the choice is to exhibit behavior that is considered acceptable, the consequences are rewards such as appreciation and possibly other elements that are considered desirable. However, the decision to engage in behavior that is unacceptable will lead to consequences that are not desirable. From this perspective, the kid’s time out encourages children to evaluate their role in the home and why it is important to get along and be cooperative with others.

One key element to an effective kid’s time out is to always make sure the child understands why he or she is being placed in a time out. For younger children, it may be difficult to get them to understand exactly why their behavior was unacceptable. However, simply knowing that an action will not be tolerated is enough at that point. However, as the children grow and are able to understand the reasons for the disciplinary action, parents and caregivers should take the time to help the child grasp why they are being placed in a time out and why the particular action is not in their best interests.

While a kid's time out has a number of advantages, this approach may not be effective with some children. Kids with specific learning disabilities or children with especially strong wills may not respond well to a time out. In addition, this technique will usually fail if the parents do not take the time to directly connect the time out with a specific cause. Parents should also be careful in using a time out for every minor infraction, as it can tend to dilute the effectiveness of this disciplinary tool and foster a great deal of resentment in the child.

The lessons learned at home by the use of a kid’s time out begin to bear fruit as the child begins to interact with people outside the home. Whether at the park, at preschool, or upon entering grade school, the child who has been corrected and made to understand the reasons behind the correction is much less likely to engage in antisocial behavior or disrupt the classroom. These lessons learned early in life can also increase the chances that the child will grow into an adult who is responsible for his or her own actions and makes wise choices in how to interact with other people.



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