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Time-Out

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Time-out is a technique used to teach young children how to control their behavior. Time-out is an opportunity for the child to calm down or regain control of his or her behavior. If your child has trouble sharing a toy, you may even decide to put the toy in time-out.

It works best when your child is old enough to understand. This is usually around age 3 years. Time-out also works best when the usual behavior of parents is to make frequent, brief, physical contact with the child when he or she is behaving as expected (an activity called time-in).

Time-out works best when your child is doing something he or she knows is not acceptable and just won't stop, such as hitting or biting. Time-out is not effective if it is used too often or if it is used for behaviors that are not within a child's control. For example, time-out is not appropriate for a child who accidentally wets his or her clothes instead of using the toilet.

Before you start a time-out:

The time-out procedure includes telling your child why he or she is going to time-out. State only once, "Time-out for having a temper tantrum." Then:

While your child is in time-out:


Credits for Time-Out

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics


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