Since the success of the program "Supernanny", many parents have begun using time-outs in one way or another. While they are finding time-outs to be very effective, parents often have the same questions regarding certain problems they encounter. Here are solutions to the top 4 most commonly asked questions.

1) What happens if my child won't go to the time-out spot?

Solution #1

Let's start with what NOT to do. The worst thing you can do is to start talking or begging. For example, "Come on, it's only 3 minutes and then you can go back and play." You need to remain quiet and do one of two things depending on the size of your child.

If you have a child who is substantially smaller than you, simply move toward him or her. Most times they'll hurry along to the spot with you following behind them. Other times you might have to physically "escort" your child to the time-out spot. This means taking them by the hand or arm and either carrying or dragging them to the spot, knowing full well they might kick and/or scream in the process.

If you have an older or larger child ex. a ten-year-old, then you need to skip the physical approach and switch to a verbal-choice approach. You provide 2 choices. One is to go to the time-out spot and the other is a time-out alternative. For example, he can go for a time-out or go to bed half an hour earlier.

Other alternatives could be:

a) loss of TV for the night

b) loss of a favourite toy or game for the rest of the day

c) money off their allowance

d) reduced computer time

e) no use of the telephone

If your child refuses to choose a time-out alternative then you go ahead and select one for them.

Choose the time-out alternative that either matches the situation or will be most effective. Some children are highly motivated by losing money from their allowance, whereas others couldn't really care. So, choose one that will have the most impact.

2) What happens if my child starts to argue with me after I've selected a time-out alternative?

Solution #2

This is quite common, but remember, they'll only try this persistently if you give attention to it. Without an audience there is no reason to continue. The best thing you can do is to stay quiet and walk out of the room. Go to the kitchen, go to your room, even go to the bathroom! You can stay in that area until things calm down, but remain silent.

3) How do I enforce time-out when we are away from the house?

Solution #3

There are a few solutions to this, but your choice depends on the age of your child.

Idea A - Cut a piece of fabric into a circle or square shape and make that your child's time-out spot. Then, if you're going out, just scrunch up the fabric, put it in your purse and bring it out when necessary.

Idea B - Use a guest room as the time-out spot. Most people have a room where only guests stay and is quite free from stimuli. Therefore use this room in your house as well as your friend, grandparent or sister's house as the consistent time-out spot.

Idea C- Use the bottom step of a staircase as your consistent time-out spot. Again, most people have a staircase of some sort in their home, therefore whether you are at your house or a friend or relative's house, be sure to use the "step" as your time-out spot.

4) What if my child won't stay in her room?

Solution #4

If you have followed a method of clear, concise, matter-of-fact discipline in the past, most kids will stay in or on their time-out spot. There are children, however, who will try to keep coming out or off of their spot.

With very small children you can hold the door shut. After a few times, the child will understand that they can't escape. This strategy won't work, however, if you get into tugs of war with the door- you end up looking silly.

An alternative then is to block the child's exit with a safety gate just so long as your child isn't able yet to climb over it.

Another option is to start the time-out over each time the child comes out or off of the spot. (The time can be doubled for the second time-out). Don't try this with 2 or 3 year-olds because they won't understand this "doubling" concept. It is quite effective though with older children. Explain once and then start.

Under extreme situations, where you feel like you've tried everything and have made sure that you haven't broken the "No-Talking, No-Emotion" rule, then you might have to take extreme measures such as attaching plastic door knob covers. These cover the knob and have to be squeezed very tightly to be able to turn the knob and open the door.

Time outs are an absolutely simple and effective discipline technique. Use these solutions to help you overcome any little glitches that may arise.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.