Parents are often inconsistent with their discipline strategies and techniques. One day, they will take away privileges from the child and the next day, they find it easier to end inappropriate behavior with a few pats on the child's behind. Regardless of their discipline techniques, if there is no consistency in a parenting strategy, children will never know what to expect when they choose to ignore the rules.
One of the best alternative discipline strategies that parents can use for their children is the time-out method. This method, although seemingly simple, will take some work for parents who have elected to cut out the spanking and try alternative discipline strategies. It will also be especially difficult to swap to a new method of discipline if a child is already 8-10 years of age and accustomed to the inconsistent methods that have been used in the past. However, it is never too late to decide that spanking is not the best method of discipline and start afresh. Parents who are ready to begin this new technique should be prepared to put some hard work into their strategy, and, most importantly, stay consistent.
As stated above, the time out technique is simple, but it is definitely going to take some work to assure the child that the parent "means business". There are three simple steps to remember when administering this type of discipline:
1) If a child misbehaves, they are issued a "warning" and firmly told that the next time this inappropriate behavior occurs, they will be placed in a time-out.
2) If the child elects to exhibit the same behavior again in the same day, the parent needs to address the child, explaining that they were given a warning and that the inappropriate behavior occurred again, therefore, the child must sit in a time out. A time out should be one minute for every year of age that the child is. For example: a four-year old would need to spend four minutes in time out. At this point in time, the parent should place the child in the time out and set the timer. If the child leaves the time-out before the time is completed, the parent needs to explain that the child must stay in time out until the timer buzzes, place the child in time-out again, and restart the timer.
This is the step where most parents lose their patience, but it is important to stick to the procedure. It may take several times of placing the child in time-out before they realize that mom or dad is serious about this new routine. The child will eventually conform and pay the price for stepping out of the good behavior boundaries.
3) Immediately after the timer chimes and the child has completed their time out, the parent needs to get down to the child's level and look them in the eye. The parent should explain, again, why the child was put in time-out and then remind the child that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and will result in a time-out. The parent should also request an apology from the child. Finally, a big hug can start things back on track and remind the child that they are loved.
The technique sounds quite simple on paper, but many parents find out that children will push every limit to see what they can get away with. Younger children, between the ages of 2 and 6, have enough energy to give parents a run for their money when this technique is first attempted, but as time goes on and the consistency is in place, the child will understand that certain behaviors are not acceptable and realize that if they exhibit certain behaviors, they will result in a time-out. Eventually, many of the behaviors will cease and spanking will be a thing of the past.