10 Things To Do Instead of Time Out

Time outs became the new spanking; And now time outs are as dated as MySpace. Here’s my deal – if time outs don’t work and spanking is for cavemen, then how in the world do we get the kids to listen? Luckily, Amy McCready – who has been featured on the Today Show for her fab parenting advice and founder of Positive Parenting Solutions – gives Breezy Mama 10 proven alternatives.

From Amy:

Your child misbehaves. What do you do? For many parents, “Time Out” is the go-to strategy. It’s the “one size fits all” strategy for most misbehaviors – big and small.

When I ask parents how well “Time Out” works for them, I often hear: “It doesn’t work” or “It works GREAT! I use it every day!” I have to keep from laughing when I hear this because the truth is, if you have to use it almost every day…it’s really not working!

Breezy Mama and Positive Parenting Solutions are teaming up to teach you why “Time Out is a Waste of Time” and what you can do instead. More on that later!

For now, here are 10 Things You Can Do Instead of “Time Out” the next time your kids misbehave…

1. Give a Giant Hug – Do the unexpected! When your child misbehaves he’s waiting for the hammer, instead, do just the opposite of what he expects. He’ll be thrown completely off-guard!

2. Walk Away – “But I can’t let her get away with that!” You’re not “letting her get away with it.” You’re just choosing to NOT engage in the power struggle by walking away. You’ll deal with the behavior later when everyone (including you!) is calm.

3. Take a Deep Breath – This can do wonders for the mind and body. Sometimes after a deep breath, the infraction doesn’t seem like such a big deal after all.

4. Whisper – Kids expect parents to lecture, reprimand or yell. Instead…WHISPER – it will get their attention!

5. Do something silly! Again, do the unexpected! Instead of “laying down the law” do something silly and totally unexpected. You’ll diffuse the power struggle so you can focus on solutions calmly with respect.

6. Think about WHY the child is behaving that way. Focus on “the WHY,” not the behavior. That helps you target the root cause of the misbehavior, not the symptom.

7. Consider YOUR role in the misbehavior. Did you invite the power struggle with your tone of voice?

8. Encourage! “You are really growing up and I know you’ll make a better choice next time.”

9. Divert attention to something else. Instead of jumping to Time Out – get the child involved in a more productive activity.

10. Ignore the Behavior. Drawing attention to the misbehavior actually causes it to continue and even escalate. (The child gets an “attention or power fix”) Instead, ignore the behavior when it makes sense.

Bonus! Join Breezy Mama and Positive Parenting Solutions for the “Why Time Out is a Waste of Time” free (yes, free!!!) webinar on Tuesday March 9th, 2010! We’ll be challenging popular parenting strategies such as Time Out, Counting 1-2-3 and Rewards. You’ll learn why they actually escalate behavior and what you can do instead. To sign up to get your log-in information to join us for free, Click here!

Yep! Breezy Mama has some learning to do! This FREE webinar is only one hour — grab a glass of wine or some hot coco (and your husband, too, if you want!) and sit back anonymously in front of your computer or type in questions you have as we go along! To learn more about the free live webinar and to RSVP: Click here!

About Amy:
Parenting coach Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. Her successful online course empowers parents of toddlers through teens with the skills to correct misbehaviors permanently without nagging, reminding or yelling. You can learn more at www.PositiveParentingSolutions.com.

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  1. Love it! I find ignoring the behavior to be the most effective and then when calm teaching a better way to deal with the frustrations.

  2. Love this piece Chelsea! I also love giving my girls choices that I can live with. This way it’s a win win for all.

  3. Thank you Unplanned Cooking and Elaine! I love the figuring out “why” they are acting that way. Usually I realize it’s because I’ve gotten into their nap time, bed time or am late on getting their snack -lol! I’m looking forward to learning more with Amy at the webinar.

  4. I can’t wait for this webinar! My boys have been at each other constantly, and it can be so hard to keep my cool when they are always hurting each other and making each other cry. I hope this isn’t just the beginning; there has got to be a way to deal with this and help them get along. I’m also hoping Amy can help me figure out a way to get my 18 month old to eat normal food – it’s a constant battle with him, and a lot of the time I feel the need to give in just to get something in his stomach…

  5. I can’t wait to hear how all these lovely children whose bad behavior is being “ignored” or not dealt with are going to turn out. More than likely, they’ll end up in jail. What a laugh. I enjoyed this article for the humor. It can’t possibly be serious. Ignore bad behavior? Walk away? We’ll see how well that works for these kids when they grow up and the law is now the cops instead of liberal Mommy. LOL…good luck with that folks! Children need and desire boundaries. If you have a child with behavior problems (as all children do) do yourself a favor and stop reading tripe like this and try simple consequences for behavior. Consequences are real, part of natural law and it is far better for your children to receive consequences from you now then from the law later.

  6. I totally agree, M. Fox! I’m a teacher and find that while kids do “need and desire boundaries,” they fight against those boundaries every. chance. they. get. They NEED parents and teachers to set clear boundaries and follow through with consequences every single time!!! It doesn’t really matter what the consequence is as long as it’s consistent: time-out (and I completely disagree that time-outs are “outdated”), taking away a privilege or a toy, etc. Ignoring bad behavior is the worst thing you can do. This article makes me sad – These poor babies need their moms to use every moment as a teaching opportunity, not ignore behavior or give them a hug and tell them how perfect they are when they aren’t behaving the right way. 🙁

  7. Dear M. Fox,

    Thanks for posting a comment about the “10 Things to do Instead of Time Out” article.

    I agree with you – children absolutely NEED and WANT boundaries. It’s what keeps them safe and helps them understand that behaviors and choices have consequences – good and bad. I always tell parents…you have a choice…you can teach your kids about consequentiality at home with fair and effective consequences – or they’ll learn the lesson out the real world – very often with the law!

    We’ll be talking about the 5 R’s of fair and effective consequences in the upcoming webinar with BreezyMama. I hope you can join us.

    The intent of this article was to point out that Time Out is an over-used strategy that very often doesn’t produce the desired results. That doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be held accountable for their behavior. In some cases, a more effective consequence is in order – in other cases – a completely different strategy is required. Jumping to Time Out as the “one size fits all” discipline tool isn’t always the best choice. My objective was to give other options…and yes, sometimes ignoring is the best strategy as it removes the attention/power payoff that causes the misbehavior to continue.

    Thanks again for your comments!

    Best regards,
    Amy McCready
    Founder, Positive Parenting Solutions

  8. Hi,
    love the post… it gives me some new ideas! I really don’t get the timeout idea anyway. It only makes them get even madder, so that can’t be the point. Plus I think locking your child up in a room is seriously not the way to go!
    Happy blogging

  9. Elizabeth says

    Oh brother! Do the unexpected and give a hug? Yeah, maybe ONCE. Then what? Distraction works for infants, not kids who are learning lessons about behavior and consequence. I agree with sometimes ignoring the fit and not engaging in the power struggle. Another way of not engaging in the power struggle is to be the parent. “That’s one….. that’s two….that’s three – take a time out” means you are the authority and there’s no discussion. Unemotionally setting the law and not over explaining everything like you are talking to a peer works in this house.
    Kids generally change the behavior after “that’s one.”
    “Give a hug” reminds me of all this hippy dippy parenting that is creating little monsters. “Stop stabbing Jenny, it doesn’t feel good.” Not a fan.

  10. I am a mother of four pretty well behaved kids, and I have to agree with this post 100%. I am a believer in time-out but have overused it and am now stuck trying to find new ways to discipline my oldest who is 11. These are great ideas. Thank you so much. My only added bit of advice would be to NEVER threaten your child with punishment and NOT follow through. Give adequate warning ahead of time and when they misbehave follow through somehow…even if it is to walk away and come back to it with some kind of follow through.

  11. alicia kras says

    as a mother of two and step parent of three I have to say time outs do work IF you use them correctly and start them at an early age.time outs were a great tool in teaching my own children respectful socially appropriate behaviours.unfortunately time outs do not work on my step children as they were not introduced to time outs at an early enough age and unacceptable behaviours were allowed to get way out of hand.I must agree that a big hug is just the most ridiculous idea,as is ignoring the behaviour what sort of message does that send the child ? all in all this has probably got to be the worst advice to give frustrated parents who are looking for serious soloutions.


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