November 24, 2003
If your child is misbehaving, but you feel guilty about enforcing your own rules with a time-out, Dr. Phil has advice.
Get over the guilt.
A short time-out that lasts a few minutes is not an unreasonable or cruel form of punishment. You are not an awful parent for asking your child to have some control.
Enforce the designated duration.
If your child tries to get out of a time-out by saying he has to go to the bathroom or by creating some other excuse before it has been completed, let him know that the time-out will have to begin again in its entirety.
Know it may get worse and be inconvenient for you.
Yes, it’s inconvenient for you to stick around enforcing a time-out that keeps lengthening due to your child’s misbehavior, but as a parent, you need to let your child know what the consequences of his actions are. Your child may fall down, yell, hit his head on the wall, urinate, or do a number of things in an effort to get out of the time-out. When your child calms down, let him know the time-out will begin again until he can complete it in its entirety. Your child will soon realize that he needs to begin behaving when a time-out is called.
Don’t let your child manipulate you into feeling guilty.
If your child doesn’t like time-outs and thinks he can make you feel awful about enforcing them, he will. When a time-out is over, your child may say something like, “You hate me, don’t you?” If that happens, you need to say, “No, I love you enough to make you behave.”