What To Do Instead Of A Timeout

Timeouts are a widely used form of discipline that can be utilized when a child needs to think about their actions. But what to do instead of a timeout when your children show troublesome behavior?

Quite often, parents might find that they don’t like giving timeouts, timeouts do not work with their child, or that they aren’t relevant to the situation that they are dealing with.

In these instances, it’s important for any parent to look for alternatives to timeouts, as having absolutely nothing to address these situations can quickly lead to chaos.

What To Do Instead Of A Timeout

Luckily, there are many alternatives to using timeouts that work just as well, if not, in some cases, more efficiently.

Always taking the time to listen to your child whilst in these spaces can really help all of these alternatives to be effective, as they ensure that the child is heard, whilst also ensuring that they receive the information they need to receive about their behavior, and encouraging them to think about their actions. 

If you’d like to learn about some of the alternatives on what to do instead of a timeout for your kids, whilst also making sure that the both of you feel heard, carry on reading!

What To Do Instead Of A Timeout

Let’s take a look at what to do instead of a timeout for your troublesome kids.

Take A Breather

It’s always important to ensure that both you and your child have places you can go to be alone when you are stressed out. Having a safe space is important for everyone – including your child. 

Instead of putting your child on a timeout, ask them if they think going to their room to calm down for a few minutes will help.

This allows them to put themselves in a position where they will think about their actions voluntarily, whilst also allowing them to set their own boundaries – if they are upset, they can wait until they are ready to be nice to try again, meaning that any effort will be genuine. 

When they come out of their safe space, make sure to allow them the chance to express their feelings, before gently explaining where they have gone wrong, or where they might be confused.

Allowing yourselves a little break from each other to reassess the situation with calmer heads will help both you and your child to communicate with each other better. 

Talk To Them About It 

Sometimes, instead of a timeout, sitting down to talk to them about what has happened really is the best option .

Through talking to your child about the event – not lecturing them about it, you can start to work out what they are struggling with.

Asking questions about how they feel about what has happened, and why they have made the decisions that they made can give you the opportunity to correct them where they have gone wrong. 

Make sure to listen to their feelings, as dismissing a child’s feelings will enforce the idea that they don’t matter, even if you do care. 

Offer Them The Chance To Try Again

Giving them a second chance to do whatever was needed properly can sometimes be more than enough to put the situation right rather than use a timeout.

If your child is already eager enough to want to try again, you can give them a chance in order to see whether this motivation actually pays off – timeouts are useful as they encourage the child to think about their actions, but if your child already wants to give the activity or task another go, there isn’t too much to think about. 

Of course, if they are willing to try again, it’s probably worth giving them a little advice to ensure that they don’t make the same mistake that caused you to consider putting them on a timeout, all over again.

Help Them To Solve The Problem

Depending on the child, this may be difficult. 

All children learn differently, and some children are more independent than others.

Independent children may struggle to work as a team, meaning that working with them – (whilst making sure to enforce and encourage positive team-building skills) can take a considerable amount of patience – for both of you. 

When successful, however, this can also be a great opportunity to help them to develop good team-building skills, as this may be an area in which they struggle. Showing independent children that they can ask for help if they need it can be reassuring to them, either way.  

Some children work better in a team and can benefit from some help with problem-solving, meaning that helping them to understand the problem, where they went wrong, and how to solve it will be more than enough to get them to understand. 

Both list potential solutions to the problem. You can then work through each of their solutions, and either explain why you can’t do that or find somewhere to compromise.

This can show them how being diplomatic about a disagreement can help them to get their voice heard. It will also help you with different approaches on what to do instead of a timeout for your kids.

Use Children’s Books

Use Children's Books

Another approach to adopt when looking at what to do instead of a timeout is to use reading techniques.There are a huge amount of children’s books available that can be used to help explain different concepts to your kids.

Books like these can help them learn how to express themselves appropriately. 

If your child takes a liking to a particular book or character, you can use these to your advantage.

Phrases like “Hey. What would (name of favorite character) do?” in these situations can help you to refocus your child, as well as get them to realize that what they are doing is not appropriate. 

Choosing books with characters that your child can relate to, as well as situations similar to the situations that can come up with your family, are a great way of getting your child to start thinking about their actions. 

Using children’s books to engage your child can work brilliantly as a way to calm them down, and refocus their negative thoughts in a positive direction. 

Show Them How They Can Be Good

Reminding your child of times where they have been kind and considerate can help them to remember how to be those things too, in moments where they are frustrated, instead of using a timeout.

Pointing out good qualities, such as if they are funny, can help them to see that you do see the good in them and that you don’t think they are a bad person just because they are in trouble or have done something wrong. 

Taking steps like these can encourage your child to want to try harder to do these things, and, as a result, you may get a lot less of the behavior that caused you to think about putting them on a timeout in the first place.

Get To The Root Of The Problem

Sometimes, external sources can cause tensions, leading your child to feel frustrated and have an outburst. In these situations, it is important to try to get to the root of the problem – the external issue. 

Getting to the root of the problem is always incredibly important, as simply putting your child on a timeout won’t be productive in solving the problem. 

Timeouts are for thinking about what a child has done and how they should behave differently, but if an external source is causing them to behave this way then that needs to be addressed.

If your child is being bullied, for example, and you suspect that this is what has led to the outburst, you must try to address the bullying as well as your child’s behavior, as stopping the bullying may help your child’s reactive behavior to come to an end. 

If you find that you aren’t sure about the root of the problem, or if there even is an external source, it’s important to ask questions.

Asking your child if anything has happened to upset them earlier on that day, or if they need to talk to you about something that is bothering them, can help you to understand whether there is an external source to address. 

If you can’t get to the root of the problem, but the issue is continuing relentlessly, this may suggest that there is another issue, such as a mental health issue, that could be causing them distress. In these instances, it is important to ask a professional for advice.

This will allow you to question if the issue is not what to do instead of a timeout, but rather why was the timeout necessary in the first place.

Have A Breath Of Fresh Air Together 

A relaxing walk will do any situation some good, and this one is no exception. It is a great alternative to deal with behavior instead of a timeout.

Instead of putting your child on a timeout, why not burn their energy off in another way? Taking them on a walk may help the both of you to distress, whilst presenting the opportunity for your child to approach you with anything that might be distressing them externally.

This also provides an excellent bonding experience for the two of you, and if things have been stressful, this can be massive;y beneficial. 

Going for a walk with them might show them that if they feel frustrated, they can ask to go on a walk and talk about it, instead. 

Final Thoughts

When a child is being naughty, it’s easy to instantly turn to a timeout to address this behavior. Timeouts aren’t the only way of managing these behaviors, however, and it’s important for any parent to know all of their options.

Knowing what to do instead of a timeout is a great tool for any parent to have.

Hopefully, our alternatives to timeouts will help you to communicate with your child, put boundaries in place, and also put an end to any misbehaving.

You can ensure that both you and your child are heard, and also address any external problems that may be contributing to this behavior in the process.

Of course, children will always be children, and they’ll have their moments – but hopefully, these tips and tricks can help you get through the tough parts. Good luck!

Joyce Bailey
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