First and foremost, you are probably a better parent than you realize and give yourself credit for.

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The Principles of time out:

Time out is simply put, a short break for a child. (or adult – read my personal time out adventure in this post Lol)

Time out is not meant to be misconstrued as some monsterous event that is a jail sentence.  It is a way to let the child cool down, have time to think about what just happened, and to ultimately show that those actions that got them in time out are not okay.

Have you heard of “positive parenting”?  While I agree with most of it’s practices.  I still believe that Time Out is a must.

In our world whether we want to believe it or not, we all face consequences for inappropriate behavior.  I think that if I start by raising my children to believe that every inappropriate action will be followed by someone gently talking through the situation, I believe I am doing my kids a great disservice.

I want my kids to realize what they have done is wrong, that this is not how we act, and overall not okay.

The biggest issue I have with not using some form of time out is that I believe is that if I always try to solely talk my kids through everything, that it will cause them more anxiety as the get older because they are not sure how to deal with anything but positive reassurance from negative actions.  Talking someone through many things will work, but there are certain actions that I think cross this line.  

I would regret to see my kids growing up thinking that they would always get a postive reaction from doing something negative.

I believe because humans have emotions, we should teach our kids to process these emotions, learn how to diffuse them, and learn that everyone experiences them, and do so in a safe protected environment -which is in our homes.

Once kids start interacting with other people that are expressing their unhappy, sad, and upset emotions directly or indirectly, I personally believe that it might cause kids to feel anxiety, among other confusion if they have not already experienced different emotions. I think that this would be triggered because they have never learned to process these negative emotions themselves, by only allowing and showing positive emotions.

We all feel the full spectrum of many emotions way before adulthood.

Two of my children are school aged.  I know that at least in our family and school district, that the other kids in the school definitely have expressed their negative emotions, that were directly and indirectly involving my kids.

So, if I think that a time out or short break for my kids when needed, can show my kids how to think and process their emotions, this will give them some familiarity and bring awareness of the negative emotions of others.  Simply put, everyone has different emotions at different times, and it’s okay.

That is just my story, and what works for my family.

Read on to see if time out or some version of time out works for your family!


Kids: Tiny Caveman Syndrome

Kids are just that, kids.  But that does not mean they can run wild or embark on dangerous adventures.

What we all (including myself) tend to forget in the heat of the moment is that kids are functioning on whole different level of a developing brain than we (adults) operate on.

Kid’s brain’s are constantly growing, changing, and learning new things.  They really do not have the full mentality to understand and comprehend everything adults say to them.  They do forget a lot.  Trust me, I know they do things out of curiosity and to just plain ‘ol push boundaries as well.


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They really might not remember or understand what we say:

What I am saying that there is more to it than kids just misbehaving for the fun of it. As parents we all know this, but lose track of this thought in the heat of the moment.  I know I have.

I know for sure I do not always remember everything the first time it is told to me.  I don’t think that is possible.  It happens.  We are all trying to cram so much information into our brain, that sometimes not everything sticks in our memory.  The same goes for our little ones.

So when our little angels (ha! oh that’s funny) get into trouble, or forget what we have told them a thousand times, we need to reevaluate what else might work.


Kids are like puzzles, we have to keep searching for the piece that fits, not trying to make a piece fit because we are ready to give up.



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 Try Time Out, and be consistent:

Time out is not a new invention by any means.  It has been around for a very long time.  It is a commonly used technique at home and in schools.  You probably are pretty familiar with time out.

When using time out we have to BE CONSISTENT or time out will NOT work.  This means not giving into to letting yourself slip up with extra warnings, extensions of delaying time out,  and overall no “ifs, ands or buts” about it.  You may be asking, why does anyone have to be so precise, especially with little kids?

Here’s the brutal truth.  Once parents start bending the rules, adding extra warnings, and not ensuring someone stays in time out for the full length of time (1 minute per year of age) the kids have realized that they have just found a LOOP HOLE that let’s them also bend the rules.

Once anyone (kids or adults) find any loop hole they can use, they will use it continuously.

Kids will use the loop hole just like an adult, until the loop hole is taken away and they are no longer able to use it.

No loop hole = No extra problems and avoiding the creation of bad habits

It is very important to remember that you can enforce the rules while using your loving mom voice.  I can’t stress this enough.

Trust me, there are a lot of times where I feel frustrated with my childrens’ behavior.  It can be hard to be consistent all the of time, and we all are going to make mistakes along the way.  Until we all are robots, no one is perfect.  Actually even robots probably have glitches.  So no one is perfect, not even robots.  


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I really hope this is mud…


What I do mean is that I try to make the conscience effort to push myself forward and give all of us involved in the situation, a much needed break.

It gives us parents time to figure out what magical mix of words our little ones might understand.  It also gives our little snookum bears time to calm down, relax, and figure out why they are in time out.

Time outs have worked for millions of parents and children.  I personally think it works a lot better than yelling and getting no where.

Time out stops working when we stop using it.

Consistency is key. I can’t stress this enough.

I give a warning first.  In the warning I tell my kids:

  • This is a warning
  • What they did or said that is getting them this warning
  • A time out will be next

Create your own time out plan.  The one that I just described is exactly the one we use in our home.


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 Time out – How long should a time out be?

How long is long enough for a time out? There is a old rule of thumb for time out time frames.

It is really simple.

1 minute for every year of age.

Be sure to include and advise everyone, including all adults and children of the new plan.  Explain why rules are important and why everyone needs to follow the same rules.

One of the major problem in my house that all the kids are guilty of is RUNNING IN THE HOUSE. Kids like to run. Running is great. But running needs to be done outside. (At least in our house, I am not saying this should be one of your rules.)  Our reason for no running in the house is that we have laminate floors and it is easy to slip and fall,  and our current place is just way too small for 3 kids to run safely.

Everyone includes all of the adults…

Ehh, so I may have broken a rule in our house that got me sent to time out.  Lol.  We have a no running rule in our house as I just explained. It is for safety.  We have some laminate floors that are like an ice skating pond with socks on.  Well I was playing with the kids and let my hair down and ran through the house trying to escape getting a wet willy. (you know the wet finger in your ear…YUCK!)

I did the crime, so I did the time. By going to my time out, I showed that rules are meant to keep everyone safe.  No one is excluded from following the rules, not even me.  But please, for as old as I am getting myself sent to time out is like a mini vacation. For the record, I didn’t just say that. Lol.


I do not give extra warnings and I do not stray from the plan.

Once you start to relax on following the rules, the more the kids will know they can push the boundaries.  It all goes down hill from there. Even if that means that I broke the rule and I have to go to time out.


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Making time out “break time” instead of making it seem like a prison sentence

The whole point of time out is basically just to be a break from the current situation, time to reflect, and cool down. Just because you enforce the rules of time out does not mean you are a giant meanie head.

No one has to yell or speak in a negative tone when enforcing the rules of time out.

Try your best to speak calmly.  I try to say my time out message as if I was nonchalantly having a casual conversation with a friend.

Customize the time out.  Make it unique to your family and your family’s needs.

Alternative name ideas for time out:

  • relax time
  • calm down time
  • quiet time
  • cool down time
  • any type of break time
  • thinking/thoughts times
  • reflection time
  • any other name that you like and makes you feel comfortable!

You can designate a certain spot in home for time out.  A lot of people even have a certain chair that is only the “Time out chair”.  We do not have a certain chair, just a time out spot.  Which is only because we just do not have enough room for another piece of furniture at the moment.

I like the idea of the Time Out chairs because they usually have a little poem or message on the chair that the kids can read while in time out that reminds the children how they got there.  Not to mention you can get a custom made – personalized Time Out chair with your child’s name or your family last name.

The idea of a time out chair can be expanded.  For folks like myself (that have negative space for anything else) there are time out mats that are also available.  The mats can be used and then rolled up and put away.

Having an area, mat, station, or chair for time out reminds the child they are in this area because they broke one of the rules.  This helps remind them of their current action that was not okay.  The time out area serves as a blank slate for kids in time out to think about what they did and what they should do next.  Like adults, it is easier to think in an area that does not have distractions.

One awesome tool that I use is a timer for time out.  Then instead of the kids asking me a billion times if their time out is over, they know that they have to wait for the timer to go off.  I have been looking for a child friendly timer that helps calm them down while they are in a time out.  This timer is a big upgrade from what I have, and makes me feel all zen like just looking at it.



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If you need to send your child to time out, you can always start to diffuse the situation by using:

Simple little things that will make you and your child feel better in the middle of a struggle:


A hug – Sometimes when you need to send them to time out, hug them while telling them why they need to go to time out.  Hugs will make both of you feel better.  I know it sounds froofy (silly) but just try it.


A kiss – with a kiss you get close enough to see the innocence in their eyes.  They are after all a small human with inner caveman tendencies.


Snuggles – A quick (or long) snuggle is sometimes the best way to have a much needed talk.  Whether it is for a young child or an older child (I think people call this cuddling? I live under a rock apparently.) snuggling let’s the love speak for itself.


Sit down conversation – If the conversation is for a very young child use short phrases they understand.  Talk like they do in their language and on their level.  Sitting down away from toys and distractions helps keep kids more focused.  If your children are older then sitting down and staying somewhat focused is easier.  Still try to go somewhere to sit down where they are not a bunch of distractions.


Ask why –  If your children are a little bit older and can hold onto a conversation, ask them why they acted a certain way.  Ask them what they think overall and what they feel they should do to fix their own actions.  I am not saying they will be right, but it gets them to think about the situation.  Thinking seems to be most of the battle.


Separate Play – I mentioned before I have more than 1 child.  If things get out of hand and they show that cannot play together respectfully and safely, I will separate them and have each child play individually.  This only happens after I have already tried helping them through the problem with a lot of talking, explaining, mediating and overall trying to help them work out the problematic situation.

At that point it is time to have the kids play separately for awhile.  After a short time they will come to me, and ask to play with each other again.  After the kids talk it through with each other to work out the previous issue that got them separated, is the point where they can go back to playing together.  I do help mediate when the kids try to talk to each other and work through a problem.  I usually will ask questions like “what do you think the right thing is to do?” and so on.


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This post is not an end all be all post that will solve every problem situation every parent and child has.

This post is meant to give people the chance to readjust and calibrate ourselves as parents, and to give us a small slice of relief during the tough moments we are tested as parents.

Maybe we should ask ourselves:

Are we the parents we want to be?

Did we accidentally morph into ourselves into our own parents that we swore we never be?

We all get one childhood.  You and I, ours is completed and gone.  Do you have any childhood memories that are not so pleasant? I am sure you do, we all do.

Everything we say and do in front of our kids is creating their childhood.  Every moment is a memory that they will keep and reflect on for the rest of their lives.

That does not mean it is okay for the children to climb the curtains, which my youngest son has done – more than once.

I am not a perfect mom. There have been many times when I have forgotten library books for school, to sew that dear old teddy bear before morning that I promised, lost my cool and yelled, and a bunch of other stuff in between.

What I do try to be is a parent that continues to try to be better parent no matter how many mistakes I fall into.

Time out helps me do just that.  That short break pauses the situation.  Then we can resume and repair the problem when we all are in a more calm state of mind.


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Yesterday is gone, today I can still fix, and tomorrow I can create to be better than yesterday and today.

I love my kids.  I know you love your kids too.  How do I know that?  Because you just took the time to read this post. You did not have to click and read this post.

 You chose to.

Making the choice to read about ways to diffuse problems between you and your children shows how much you really care.

That makes you exceptional. 



Do you use time out? Do you have any tips or tricks for making time run more smoothly?

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