I have two kids and while sometimes envy parents who have kids that will listen to them and go sit in a time out chair. I often wonder, did I miss out on when to teach my oldest child “time-out”? Or is there really a need for time out? Then I start to wonder what the purpose behind the time outs are?
A lot of parents use time outs as a punishment when their child does something wrong. However, it’s my belief that time outs should be used as a learning tool. Use time out when your child is starting to become unruly. Let them sit by themselves in the corner and cool down. Don’t restrict time outs to just when they are misbehaving. If your child has been running around on a hit day and his face is red and you know he needs to take a break, have him come inside and take a time out with a glass of water and allow himself to get cooled down. Before bedtime have your child take a time out to get calmed down and ready for the bedtime routine, this way they are not running around while you are trying to read them a story or put on their pjs.
So, when should you try to teach your child the “time-out” routine? Well, that depends on your child. Most say somewhere between 12-36 months. However, more importantly than the age of the child is whether or not the child understands what you are asking and why. If your child understands and knows what the rules are and will tell you when you’re doing something you wouldn’t allow them to do then your child is probably ready to start learning about time-outs. If you can tell your child to go to a certain room or spot in the house and the child can do this then your child is probably ready to learn about time-outs. So watch for these clues. If your child isn’t mentally ready it could lead to more frustration for both of you.
Did I miss out on teaching my oldest child time-outs? Not really. My first born child has always been very aware of when she needs to take a break. She is often the one telling me that we need to sit and rest a minute when she gets hot, exhausted or tired. So, there wasn’t really a need for time outs since I didn’t want to use them just as a punishment.