Effective Timeouts for Teens

When a teenager acts up, you might want to tear your hair out. A more effective way of disciplining your teen is to put him in a timeout 1. Timeouts aren't only for younger children. A timeout is an ideal discipline method when your teenager is throwing a fit or acting aggressively.

Understand the Purpose

Take a few minutes before the timeout to explain to your teenager why you're putting her in timeout and what you expect of her during it. For example, if she is picking on her younger sibling, stop her from doing so. Remind her that you don't tolerate teasing and tell her to go to timeout. Be firm. Even if she says she'll stop teasing, have her sit in timeout anyway.

Choose a Length

As your teenager grows older, you increase the length of the timeout. HealthyChildren.org recommends a minute in timeout for each year of life for younger adolescents. A 13-year-old can sit in timeout for 13 minutes, for example. If your teenager is older, you can be more flexible with the length. Instead of telling him to sit in timeout for 15 minutes, tell him to sit there until he has calmed down and can have a reasonable discussion with you.

Choose a Location

It's not much of a timeout if your teenager can sit and play on a tablet or smartphone. The ideal location for a timeout is a boring spot with few distractions. Clear off your kitchen or dining table and have your teen take a seat there. A seat in the middle of the living room is another ideal spot. Remember to collect any gadgets from your teenager before the timeout and put the television remote well out of her reach. Keep siblings and other family members away from the timeout area.

Post-Timeout Chat

Reconnect with your teenager after the timeout to discuss his behavior. An effective timeout will help him think about what he did. Ideally, he'll see why his behavior was unacceptable and will be ready to apologize for it after a period of reflection. A timeout gives you time to calm down and reflect on your teen's behavior, too, so you're able to discuss it with him without losing your cool.