- Using them for every infraction, large or small. It is better to limit time-outs to serious transgressions, such as limit testing or hitting, so you don't dilute the impact or inspire resentment.
- Postponing. It is better not to dangle the threat of a time-out for later, as in "when we get home" or as soon as I'm finished here."
- Failing to follow through. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Always follow through.
- Giving a child too much control. You are the parent. You decide how discipline measures begin and end, including how long a time-out should last; you should be the one with the timer, not your child.
- Not explaining why you are using a time-out.Never spring one out of the blue. Make it clear that your child's actions were not okay and he needs a break. You don't need to give a long-winded explanation, but you do need to make the rules clear.
- Showing your anger by yelling or jerking your child over to the time-out chair.Model calmness. "I asked you to stop that. Let's sit down and cool off now." Don't get into debates or arguments. (Jerking your child to the corner communicates that you are powerful-not that you are right.
- Expecting magical results. Recognize time-outs for what they are--a way to help your child to regain control. Truly achieving this goal requires time and patience on the part of a parent. It is what loving discipline is all about.