When your child behaves improperly, the goal is to point out the error and explain why it is wrong. One way to do this is a method called "Time Out."


Rules for Time Out:


Select a place such as a corner, hallway or other non-threatening area, which will allow the child to think about his/her behavior. A good rule of thumb is to let the child spend one minute in "time out" for each year of age, up to ten minutes.


Rules of Discipline:


To Discipline Means to Teach!

Discipline is NOT punishment.


  • Be Firm: Once you make an essential rule, stick by it. If the neighbor's rose garden is off limits, it is always off limits.

  • Be Consistent: Do not ignore minor bumps and bruises one day, and then go along with crying over a slight hurt the next day.

  • Praise desired behavior: When your child waits for a cookie while you finish making a telephone call, say "Thank you for waiting" and make sure to add a hug and a smile.

  • Be loving: As long as your child feels the security of your love, his reaction to discipline will probably be positive. When he is denied love, his fragile world breaks apart and his reaction to discipline becomes random.


Alternatives to Spanking:


  • Diversion - Works best with young children to divert their attention from something they should not be doing. Re-direct behavior: If one behavior is a problem, take that energy and have them do another positive action: crayon on wall - have paper available. Throwing sand - give them a ball to throw, etc.

  • Time Out - This allows both sides to cool off when things get heated, and it's better and more effective than using physical punishment, as long as time out is kept short and simple, i.e. sitting in a boring place for one or two minutes. Explain what they did that was unacceptable and what they are supposed to do instead. Use a timer, when time out is over, notice good behavior and praise your child for it. This will let them know you are aware of his good points too.

  • Ignore - Ignore behavior that will not harm them, this should not be used in dangerous situations. Bad habits, such as whining, bad language and tantrums are hard to ignore; however this lack of attention takes away the very audience they are seeking.

  • Reminder of Rules - All families have rules, some are unspoken and unwritten. If you feel the child has forgotten the rules, it often helps the child to remind him/her about the rules without using threats. A helpful phrase that can be used is "In this house we do…". When rules are being forgotten too often, maybe it's time for everyone to go over the rules and make some changes.

  • Logical Consequences - Let the action do the "talking", i.e. misuse a toy - toy gets taken away for a period of time, crayons on the wall - you have them wash the wall, missed a curfew - this is subtracted from their next outing. You must make sure the "punishment fits the crime", in other words try not to make the consequences outweigh the behavior.