Time-out

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Vintage illustration of a girl sitting in a time-out chair in the corner.

A time-out is a parenting technique that consists of keeping the child isolated for a limited period of time (e.g. 5 minutes). This can be used as a mild form of short term isolation punishment, but also to allow the child to calm down. Time-outs are recommended by many pediatrists and developmental psychologists as an alternative to spanking and other traditional forms of discipline. It is also a time for parents to separate feelings of anger toward the child for their behavior and develop a plan for discipline.

Time-outs can however also be used in addition to, rather than instead of, spanking. A typical traditional method is to send a child in corner time either before the spanking or after, or both, 'to think about what you did'. Unlike corner time, however, a time-out is usually much more comfortable, and the subject is not forced to hold any uncomfortable position (such as kneeling). Time-outs are also used in schools. These should not be confused with a time-out as awarded in team sports (where it is often considered a calculated risk).

Time-outs are often spent seated on a chair or stool, placed in safe distance from other furniture and people, either in the center of a room or in a corner. A popular alternative is the "naughty step". When no chair or step is used, the time-out is usually spent either standing in a corner or in a room where the child is sent to. An alternative is locking up the child somewhere for a period of time.

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