Are Time Outs Not Working? Try These Alternatives!

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By Brianna Siciliano

Every young child acts out for attention, whether it was a temper tantrum in a restaurant, an argument with their sibling that becomes physical, or a normally cooperative child becoming uncooperative. Parents often wonder what to do in these situations, wondering if a time out is the best option. Sometimes, children find time-outs as a joke. Every child is different; some kids can care less about being forced to sit in a chair for ten minutes. In cases like that, time-outs are not punishments at all. 

The ultimate goal parents have with disciplinary strategies is to change the way their child acts, not to make their child miserable. If time-outs are not successful discipline strategies for your child, try matching their punishment with the crime. If you are going to the park with your child, for example, warn your child that if they stray too far from the playground area, you will take them home right away and end their play date. Your child may wander off the first few times, so that they can see how much power that they have, but when you take them home, they will learn their lesson that they need to listen. It is very important to discipline the child directly after they misbehave. Do not tell your child that “next time” he will go home right away; grab him and buckle him into the car. Take him home right away. 

Another effective disciplinary strategy is taking away some of your child’s privileges. It is important to determine which privilege your child enjoys the most––whether it is watching television, playing with a certain stuffed animal or toy, going to bed thirty-minutes later than usual, or listening to a favorite book––and take it away from him or her if he or she misbehaves. Do not take away the privilege for too long; for children under 9, it is more beneficial to take the privilege away for a day rather than a week. This way, when the child gets the privilege back, they must make the choice to behave and keep their privilege, or misbehave and lose it once again.

There are many ways to discipline children. Find the disciplinary strategy that works best for you and your child.