Do you really know how to carry out a time out?

By: Sharon Weisz, SLP, M.Cl.Sc., Director of Toronto Speech Therapy 

by Sharon Weisz
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While everyone knows that children need the occasional time out, many parents are not actually familiar with “how” to execute a time out effectively. Here are some guidelines to help make time outs more effective in your home:

1. Identify a small number of ‘serious offences’ that will lead to an automatic time out. Keep it to a few so as not to overuse this consequence and post these on the fridge. (Ex. No hitting, no name-calling)

2. EVERY TIME your child violates these rules, you calmly tell him that that he will
have to go to the time-out chair. If your child is old enough, you can tell him that you will count to 5 and, if he chooses not to go to time out, he will lose a privilege (ex. 5 minutes of phone time).

3. While sitting in the time out chair, he should be encouraged to take deep breaths to help calm himself down. (Please note: He should be taught to take deep breaths any time he feels frustrated or angry otherwise he will resist the idea if introduced in such a high stress situation).

4. Once the timer goes off, he must have sat quietly for at least 2 of the 5 minutes before he can come off the chair. (Some children find it calming to watch the timer and even choose a ring tone for when the timer goes off)

If your child can read, it may be helpful to write out these steps and post them on the fridge.

It is important to be consistent and send your child to time out each and every time these unbreakable house rules are violated.

For more information on time outs and other parenting strategies, you may consider reading “The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2-8 Years” By Carolyn Webster-Stratton.

Please feel free to contact Sharon Weisz at with any questions or feedback.

Sharon Weisz, SLP, M.Cl.Sc., Reg. CASLPO
DIRECTOR, www.TorontoSpeechTherapy.CA

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