Is it wrong to use time-outs? What can we do instead?

Question: Is it wrong to use time-outs? What can we do instead?

Try a time-in.

Time-outs are a behaviour management technique where a child is removed from play for a period of time. The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) consider ‘time-outs’ an inappropriate discipline to apply in an education and care setting. For more on this, explore the ACECQA Information sheet on Inappropriate discipline.

Try a ‘time-in’ instead. This technique asks you to spend one-on-one time with the child who is exhibiting challenging behaviours to help them cool down.

A time-in does not need to involve much interaction. You might ask the child to join you carrying out a quiet task such as reading, or even simply sitting together and practising breathing techniques.

A time-in recognises that children’s behaviours are telling us about their needs. It asks educators to focus on their relationship with the child and be there for them at a tough moment. It is not a time for discussion. That can take place when the time-in is over and the child has had an opportunity to cool down.

Caitlin Mason
Consultant, Community Child Care Association

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Child sitting with elbows on the table and head in hands with a discouraged expression