What are the downsides and the advantages to using time-outs to discipline a toddler? (My daughter is 21 months old.) Are there reasons to use them? Reasons to avoid them? What are the pros and cons either way?

I've read that they are good when used immediately and consistently, but I've also read that children don't necessarily associate them with a reason to behave better and they're just a punitive measure. I can't really see how any alternative forms of discipline (that mostly seem to involve talking to them and validating their fears) would work with a toddler.

2 Answers 2


We have used time-outs for both our kids. The advantages we've found:

  • it's a pretty light punishment.
  • it stops punishments (and anger) from escalating.
  • it gives the kid time to calm down if angry
  • you can control just how much of a time-out it is; sometimes, you can just send the kid there while you explain why they are in trouble. Other times, it can be used to deprive the child of attention when they are acting up to get attention.
  • you can stick a lesson in the time-out (eg: you' re in timeout until you count to 70 by 7s).
  • it scales. On the odd occasion, we time-out our 13 year old.


  • context is everything, you need to know when it works.
  • it may not work for every kid every time.
  • you can't always do it when not at home.

It works for us, but there are a number of other courses of action depending upon the infraction. As with anything, try it with your kid(s) and see if it works for you.

  • 1
    Timeouts for us are a minute for each year of your age. On occasion my father in law has deliberately taken a timeout - he can get over an hour of peace that way:-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 11:27

I've always tought that time outs are good solutions, if only not used too often. Recently I've read a great article wchich stated that classical time outs are causing children to belive that we love them only for being well behaved. In other words, time out is functioning as taking away your attention from a child in situation when it needs it the most (it's not about rewarding bad behaviour, but for being understanding and very, very patient in explenations). The author of the aeticle stated, that by giving the most of our attention to children only when they behave as we want them to can result in teenagers who wouldn't come to us with their prpblems and won't be asking for our advice when they occasionaly make something stupid.

  • What did the article propose as a solution? And or, do you have a the link to the article? Also, I have read several articles that agree with your statement. I dont have the links (sorry) but I have read supporting material.
    – user7678
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 16:54
  • The article I've mentioned is written in Polish, but I will try to translate the essence of the solution if you don't mind waiting for a little.
    – Visedre
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 17:09
  • I was just wondering, you don't have to translate a whole article. :) But thank you.
    – user7678
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 17:12
  • Can you provide a link to the article in Polish? Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 17:31
  • Sure I can. But first let me get this clear, that it is not a science article. It's taken from one great dad's parenting blog. He wrote this article in reference to Marshall B. Rosenberg, whom you all may know. So here's the link: blogojciec.pl/dzieci/jak-bezwarunkowo-kochac-swoje-dziecko
    – Visedre
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 18:07

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