30 answers

Time Out for a 3 Year Old

We just came home from the pediatrician (a new one) and she was telling me about trying time out instead of spanking. My question is how long would you do time out for? I know my mom used to do it with us, but of course I don't remember how long we had to stay there. Do you think it is appropriate to send her to her room for a while? I did that last night when she was really bad and it was already bedtime.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

thank you all for your input, it has been considered and is greatly appreciated. today I did take her into her room when she got really whiny for no reason and I couldn't make her happy. I work at home, so I can't have a whiny child getting on my nerves and interfering with my work for too long. She came back out when she had adjusted her attitude and was much happier. We talked about the situation and we understand each other. She is the only one in the house and there are very few rooms in our house where she can go, so far that is working for us. She really never plays in there anyway.

Featured Answers

They say one minute per year not to exceed 5 minutes. It seems to work for us anyway. As crazy as it sounds sending him to the corner for that length of time seems to work better than just sitting him in a timeout seat.

I have 3 children, 14, 12, 10. When I gave them time outs, I would use the rule of 1 minute for each year. Until they started school and learned to tell time, then it was generally 10-15 minutes.

A good way to stop them from asking, "can I come out now" is to use a timer. I used to set the microwave timer to beep when their time was up.

Please let me know if this helps.

Hi S.,
My name is S. and I wanted to let you know I have a 2 1/2 year old boy and I use time-outs. What I read is that you do one minute for each year of age. So, I do 2 minutes for my son. I use a kitchen timer. Hope this helps.

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I once had the same question so I asked my pediatrician and other mothers with children and always had about the same response being always add 1 min. to their age like when they are 3 you would put them in time out for 4 mins. and so on. But I found out for myself as they get older the things that they do get more naughty depending on the age of the child and the naughty thing that they had done and shouldnt have you sometimes need to up thier time a bit in order for them to learn thier lesson, Like my 9 year old likes to fight with her brother and sister over and over again and sometimes I give her time out for 15 mins. and like any other discplinary actions time out doesn't always work! But as a parent you eventually will figure out the right method of discpline for the action! Hope I helped a bit

Sometimes my husband and I have our 3 year old daughter stay in her room until she has calmed down, no matter how long that takes. She enjoys being in the same room for us, so it is part punishment, but we also realize that she simply needs to detach from the situation and unwind. We've found this way of using time-out works better than having her sit in a chair for 3 minutes; that doesn't help her at all.

Hi S.,I havent spanked any of my children for alot of pesaonl reasons but the time out was very effective.What i did was buy a small childs chair and a kitchen time.I explained to them that when they are naughty they get the naughty chair and have to sit in it for start off at 3 minutes.# minutes seems like forever ot them.Set the timer and explain that when the timer goes off you can get out.However also explain that if she gets out and doesnt sit there quietly she will have to stay in chair longer and add a minute.Make sure you explain why she is sitting in time out so she can understand what she did wrong adn she will understand the consequences.I hope its some help,H.

32yrold work married work from home mom to 3 children ages 15,13 and 5

Personally my childrens personalities, (i have four) on one of them time out worked for. I took some parenting classes and of course they all emphasize time out but if you do do it it should be one min per year of age in this case 3 min, get a timer they can see and have designated place usually a stool or chair not a room . good luck

I have 3 children, 14, 12, 10. When I gave them time outs, I would use the rule of 1 minute for each year. Until they started school and learned to tell time, then it was generally 10-15 minutes.

A good way to stop them from asking, "can I come out now" is to use a timer. I used to set the microwave timer to beep when their time was up.

Please let me know if this helps.

They say the appropriate amount of time in time out is 1 minute per years old. I have a 2 1/2 yr old who now sits for 3 min though cuz 2 min is not enough.

Hi S.,
My name is S. and I wanted to let you know I have a 2 1/2 year old boy and I use time-outs. What I read is that you do one minute for each year of age. So, I do 2 minutes for my son. I use a kitchen timer. Hope this helps.

They say one minute per year not to exceed 5 minutes. It seems to work for us anyway. As crazy as it sounds sending him to the corner for that length of time seems to work better than just sitting him in a timeout seat.

I've also heard one minute for each year old your child is. We use it and it works pretty well. We also send them to their rooms... isn't quite the same because there are toys there, but it lets us both have a chance to cool off.

I have been doing the time out thing for a bit with my 2 yr old. I started at 5 minutes, although if she got up off the time out place or came out of her room it started all over. A friend of mine is strictly time outs no spankings and she does it 1 minute per age of child, she says that it works well. I try to give my daughter time outs on a couch or chair. Sending her to her room isnt showing she is really in trouble because she has toys and things in there.


I have been told by my pediatricia and my girlfriends that it is one minute for every year of their birth, i.e. 3 minutes for 3 years old. My girlfriend even purchased a timeout stool with a timer already built in from www.abcdistributing.

Hope that helps.

L. R.

We have 5 kids and we use time out, spankings and also doing odd jobs around the house that they hate to do. We give a verbal warning, then time out, then spanking. The length of time out depends on the child and what they did. We have a special needs child that requires a long time out to allow time to think, if he wakes up in a bad mood he refuses to change his atitude at all that day. if he is choosing to have a bad day, we send him to his room for the day and he will set there and eat all his meals in his room, he is free to go to the bathroom when he needs to. Our 5 year old can be put in time out for 5 min. or so and he is fine the rest of the day. Occasionally we will send him to his room for about 30 min. or if its nap time or bed time we just tell them go to bed and go to sleep. they will usually wake up a totally different kid. The other 3 are usually good with being reminded verbally, if that dosent work they just get a spanking becaue they are old enough to know better. Most Dr.s say to put them in time out 1 min. for each year of age. We dont really go by that because each child and situation is different. I have found that alot of times when the kids are acting up they are usually tired or hungry. Try giving her a small snack,even a pice of bread or fruit, crackers, etc. Remember that Peanut butter, chicken, turkey, and a few other foods will make you tired and when we are tired even we as adults act up. The little ones are more active than we realize and use up their food fast. As far as the odd jobs around the house it dosent work well for kids under 5 years old, but you can find things like makeing them clean up a mess they have made in the house or outside, even in the car. the job depends on the child, age and capability. We have found creative discipline works better than time out and spanking. I could go into detail but it would take a while. Try to find a 1234 parenting class or book, I never took it but have herd it is good and is based on creative disipline. Its similar to what we do from what I have been told and not trying to brag but we are complimented on our kids behavior at least once a day. Sometimes so often we wish they would act up to show people they arent perfect.

Hello S.,

I was watching Nanny 911 and she suggests that parents should leave children on time out according to the child's age. Since your Daughter is three years old, you would leave her in time out for three minutes. I recommend time out in another room where there are no toys and games. I normally put my 5 yr old in the naughty chair in my room for 5 minutes. I do check on her while she is on time out. Hope this helps!!!

they said a minute for each year in age they are, 1 min for 1 year in age, etc.....

1 minute for each year of age. We have our kids sit in the hallway on the floor. That way, they can't play with the chair or anything. Recently, we have added a new rule. If the child wines or argues about the time out, it gets doubled. If he/she continues to wine and not take the time out, they get a favorite toy or activity taken away for the rest of the day instead of the time out.

Try reading the book 123 Magic. I forget the author. It talks about counting kids for bad behavior. When they get to 3 they get a timeout. Of course, some really bad behaviors get an automatic time-out.

My kids are 3 and 5. Hope this helps.

1 minute per year of age

The general rule is one minute for each year of age, so three minutes. After that three minutes make sure you follow-up with the child by discussing why he/she was in time-out, and what behavior is expected. I also have a three year old, and time-out does not work at all for her. Sometimes sending her to her room works, other times we have to take away her favorite stuffed animal. I also have found that counting works. I tell her that when I get to five she is going to be in trouble. Also, she does get an occasional spanking.

Just wanted to add my 2 cents - from what I've read and been told it is NOT a good idea to use a child's room for time out. You need to find a neutral area that has no toys or any other distractions.
My understanding is that if you send them to their room (the place that they are supposed to feel comfortable, safe and secure) to be punished then their bedroom is no longer a safe haven....does that make any sense? Bedrooms are where they sleep and (sometimes) play and if you start sending them to their room for "punishment" then they will no longer like their room and/or you will have trouble getting them to go to bed at night.
Just my 2 cents, I use this theory w/ my 28 m/o and it seems to work and she adores her bedroom and knows for a FACT when she is in time out beacuse she is in her "special spot".

Good luck,

Pretty much what Kristen A said is key, I don't time my child I just pick an amount of time that seems like enough. I take a chair and sit her facing the wall. Everyone's talking and laughing and having a good time, eating whatever and she wants to be a part of that. So when I think she is ready, then I ask her "Are you ready to do homework, eat etc whatever she is having a problem completing or even listening and then we do the same appologies hugs and kisses. And when she comes back she is a better child. And the more I do it the less time she spends in the chair because she knows in order to get up she has to have a better attitude. She is also 3. 3 year olds are curious, they get bored easily and always need something to do. Don't let the tv babysit them, it is guaranteed that they will end up in trouble because their minds wonder, they have so much energy and they can make anything fun!!!! So just keep them entertained....And when they get out of hand, time out, if that doesn't work then come up with something original and creative. You know your child well enough, figure out what are her buttons to push and use that.....

The general rule is one minute per year - for your daughter, three minutes. I, however, have not had much luck with formal timeouts - I have a three-year old girl, as well. What I do when she is getting upset, rather crying or back-talking or arguing, is I send her to her room to calm down. I just say, "It's okay to be upset. You need to go into your room to cry, etc. and then come back when you calm down." It works everytime. She gets really mad at first, then calms down and comes back like new. Also, read this article on Babycenter. I found it to be most helpful. If the link doesn't work, just go to Babycenter.com and type in time-outs as a search, and the name of the article is "Time-outs: how to make them work" http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/toddler/toddlerbehavior/... Good luck. PS - are you suffering the same problem as I am right now? ALL of our fights are about wearing a "twirly dress" - she refuses to understand the concept of winter weather and no more summer dresses! AAGGHHHH

I agree 1 minute per year old. After that they forget why they are there. Good luck. My youngest one is 4 months i am sure in a year or so i will asking the same questions.

The say a time out should last one mintue per your child's age so 3 minutes for your daughter. Place her in the same spot every time and do not give her any attention until the time out is over.

Hi! We use time-outs on our 2 year old and we time them for 2 minutes (it will increase as he gets older). We use a little kitchen timer and when he hears it go off he knows his time is up. He must then apologize to us for what he did before he is let out of the corner. We tried sending him to his room, but it ended up badly for us (when laying him down at night, he thought he was being punished). I hope this helps you some! Good luck!

Here's what worked for us...

Time out should last 1 minute per year of age. So time out for your 3 year old should last 3 minutes. We had a rule that the time out started only when the child was quiet. If they were screaming, we'd say, "Well, you must want to stay in time out for a long time because it won't start until you're quiet".

Time outs need to happen immediately. If something happens at the store, you can't wait and do the time out when you get home. I used to promise my kids a reward for good behavior when we were in public. We had a small notebook that we'd put stickers in. They could trade in 5 stickers for a treat like a piece of sidewalk chalk, a coloring book, an extra story at bedtime, etc. If bad behavior happened, I'd say, "Well, no sticker today." That was their punishment - immediate. They enjoyed collecting the different stickers in their books.

At home, the time out area should not be in the child's room. Find a spot in the family room where the TV can't be seen and where you can see the child. Maybe use a small chair or a mat or small rug where the child can sit during the time out. It gives the area a defined space. If your child tries to leave the space, you have to be the boss and repeatedly put her back there until she sits.

The key is to be consistant and follow through. Don't threaten I time out and then not deliver.

Buy an egg timer - one of those wind back kinds. Set it to 3 minutes and place it where the child can see it. If the time out starts over because the child isn't quiet, reset the egg timer where the child can see it. She'll realize you're serious and start to understand how long 3 minutes is. When the bell goes off, time out is over. Ask for an apology for the specific bad behavior and then give hugs.

I know it sounds like a lot now, but once you get this pattern in place, the time outs will become less frequent. Pretty soon, you won't need time out hardly at all. You'll be grounding him from use of the phone, Internet, or the car. :-)

Check out Alphe Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting. It is a fabulous book with great info. We don't do spankings or timeouts with my 22 month old and we aren't having problems :)

Fortunately, time outs worked for all my three children when they were younger. One minute per year was suggested. My last one was a toughy though. Couldn't sit still or be quiet during time out, so........ I drew a circle on the wall where she would STAND for timeouts with her nose on the circle. She started out quiet but eventually she would start to whine. If she cried she wouldn't her the timer and could be standing there longer! A minute seems like an eternity to children. She would complete time out, we sit on the steps, talked and hugged. And sometimes, lessons were learned and sometimes we had repeats.

new here but thought I would try to help. Time out is one or 2 minutes for each year of age.

My daughter just turned 3 and we have been using time out or the "naughty corner" for almost a year now. It took her some time to get the concept down of actually staying in the corner, and I just kept putting her back when she got out. Now it works great. 1 min per year of age. Sending her to her room does not do any good- its not punishment when she has things to look at and play with. We set the timer, and when it rings, she has to come out and apologize and tell me why whe was in the corner to begin with. Then, after hugs and kisses, its done and over with.
Perserverence and patience are key.
Good luck!

they say 1 minute per year old.

I never really understood why parents send their kids to their rooms. Kids like to be in their bedrooms. I think the best way to do time out is to tell your child to go to the wall and stick her nose to it. If she is three, her nose should stick to the wall for three minutes. In other words, how ever old the child is, is how long they should stay in time out. Three years old: 3 min. Four years old: 4 minutes, and so on. There should be no talking or whining, and if she does talk or whine, that's one extra minute in time out every time she does so. I hope this helps! Good luck. :)

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