What's the Difference Between a "Time-Out" and a "Time-In?"
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What’s the Difference Between a “Time-Out” and a “Time-In?”

Some say the only difference between “time-out” and “time-in” are merely semantics. Positive parenting tools such as a time-in are far more encouraging, educational, and allows the parent or caregiver the time to connect with the child and talk about the behavior that needs changing.

A traditional time-out is when when a child exhibits a behavior that the parent or caregiver views as “bad” or “wrong.” The child is sent somewhere, such as a corner or chair, for a set amount of time. Parents were taught to ignore the child, no matter what.


A time-out teaches the child that they are being punished for BEING bad. It creates anger towards the parent or caregiver who put the child there. It often becomes a struggle and a battle of the wills if the child won’t stay in time out.

A time-in is, in essence, a positive, inclusive time-out. When the child is behaving in a manner that is not allowed or dangerous, or perhaps is just having a meltdown and is lashing out, the child is asked to sit near the parent or caregiver to calm down and talk about what just happened.


It is during this time that the child is reassured that THEY are not bad, but their behavior is unacceptable. Depending on the age of the child, take this time to remind them of “why they shouldn’t hit,” or “throw things at the baby.” Brainstorm better ways to handle their frustration, etc.

A time-in doesn’t condone the child’s behavior, or reward it. It is a calm way to redirect a young child, or help educate an older one, about appropriate behavior based on the rules and limits that have been previously taught.

The great part about a time-in is it can happen wherever you are, whether that is at home, at a friends house, or at the grocery store. A quiet place to sit with the child and a listening ear is all you need.


Give it a try, and say goodbye to 5 minute time-outs with a child screaming in the corner.

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