you asked...

Time Out for a Toddler?

Are time-outs a good discipline tool for toddlers?


Are time-outs a good discipline tool for toddlers?

The Bump Expert

Time-outs can be an effective part of an overall discipline plan. Remember, the primary purpose of discipline is to teach good behavior. Merely setting your child on a step every time she misbehaves will not teach good behavior; you also have to model and discuss appropriate behavior with her.

That said, time-outs work best when they’re used as a method to stop a specific misbehavior and to help a child learn how to calm herself and control her behavior. Time-outs shouldn’t be used as a punishment.

In other words, many parents are using time-outs incorrectly! The time-out isn’t really meant to be a negative consequence of misbehavior. The time-out is meant to quite literally be time out -- a time to stop and reconsider. When kids are in the midst of a tantrum, for example, they may find it hard to think clearly. (Heck, most parents have a hard time thinking clearly during a tantrum!) Giving a time-out to a child who is throwing things around the house does two things: it keeps her from damaging your stuff and gives her time and space to cool down.

Time-outs work most effectively when they’re used in a consistent manner. Your child (and you) should know, in advance, exactly what behavior warrants a time-out. You both should also know where time-outs will take place; a safe, boring location is best (avoid using a child’s bedroom, playroom or favorite chair for time-out -- you don’t want to create a negative experience in a play space). Toddler time-outs should be short. Some experts recommend one minute per year of age, so a two year old would get a two minute time-out. Other experts recommend keeping your child in time-out until she calms down, which may be significantly sooner (or longer) than the one-minute-per-year rule of thumb. Use your own best judgment.

Plus, more from The Bump:

10 Ways to Tame a Tantrum

How to Get Your Toddler to Do Stuff He Doesn't Want To

Is it Okay to Bribe My Toddler?

Elizabeth Pantley, parenting expert and author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers, The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution, and The No-Cry Discipline Solution


My Pregnancy Calendar
Count down to delivery with your pregnancy calendar.
baby names
Browse 1000s of baby names in our Baby Namer tool.
pregnancy tickers
Create your own pregnancy ticker.
how big is baby
From poppyseed to papaya, see how baby grows each week.

>> See all tools