We’ve talked about the appropriate way to use time outs for toddlers, but what about time outs for older kids? Time outs are still a good tool for older children, in addition to taking away privileges. I am a bug supporter of using a reward system instead of constant punishment, but there are times when some kind of punishment is warranted.
When using a time out for older children, after five years old, the “naughty spot” doesn’t always work well. That’s why we have a time out chair.
If your child misbehaves and you have given the appropriate warning, you will then want to take the “chair”, place in the middle of a quiet room, and the child should sit there for the appropriate amount of time. While it’s important to keep your other children at bay, it’s actually okay for the child who is being punished to have a line of sight into what everybody else is doing. It’s okay for your child to feel like he’s missing out (you don’t need to tell him this – he can see it), so that he can think about his behavior the next time he decides to act out.
He may decide to yell or cry as well, and again, that’s normal. You want to focus on the action, not so much the words. The action is him listening to you as he goes to time out, sitting there, etc. You can demand that he be quiet during his time out, but when you’re first starting out, you again might want to just focus on the action.
Once the time out is finished, as announced by the timer, you will then explain to your child why he was placed there and ask for an apology. Remember to hug and kiss and tell him you love him as well.
If you are not comfortable forcing your older child into an apology, ask them to talk to you about why the behavior happened, what he plans to do to correct it, and how you can help. For older children, they can even write out a plan if it’s a consistent problem. Or, you can simply tell your child that when he’s thought about it, and is truly sorry, you’d like to know that.
You can modify a time out for children any way that works best for you. The only consistency is the following:
• Establish the time out place.
• Give a firm warning.
• Follow through.
• Set timers.
• Encourage an apology.
• Explain “why”.
• Show affection and remind them you love them