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It's well known that small children don't understand the concept of the future or passage of time, so there is no point in applying the punishment for too long of a period.

Obviously, that mental development limitation gets resolved as children grow older.

Is there a good guideline on what length of punishment (withdrawal of privileges, or of specific items) is effective at what ages?

Examples: withdrawal of a specific toy that the child likes to play with nearly daily. Or withdrawal of permission to watch TV.

Age bands of most interest are preschool, elementary school and middle schoold

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Not sure if this is too opinion-based, since some will vehemently argue against punishment for young children at any age. Also, is there any age in particular, or is this more of a general question for future reference? (Not sure about the broadness) –  Noah Jun 3 at 17:48
I have heard that for time-outs, a good way to determine length is one minute for every year of age (2 year old gets 2 minutes, 5 year old gets 5 minutes). For punishments like withdrawal of privileges/items, there are diminishing returns for the effect. I'd suggest capping at 2 weeks, preferably go for only 1 week at the high end (shorter periods are more likely to be appropriate depending on the situation). –  Doc Jun 3 at 18:06
@Noah - if someone wants to argue against withdrawal of privileges being a valid approach, the problem is that they are on the wrong site for their soapboxing, not that the question is opinion based. I think this was addressed on Meta. –  user3143 Jun 3 at 18:13
@Doc - I am aware of timeout rule, but that seemed like a slightly different thing to me so I opted to exclude that from the question. It may make for a basis for one of the answers though. –  user3143 Jun 3 at 18:14
While not the most official source, I agree with the general rules of thumb stated here –  Doc Jun 3 at 18:25

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