Requesting time outs

Why your preschooler might be asking for a time out

Q: My three-year-old daughter has been asking to be put in time out. We can’t figure out why.

A: Time out is a very misunderstood concept. It should not be used as a consequence for misbehaviour, but a chance to settle down when your daughter is frustrated, tired or stressed. The adult version is a coffee break. It’s a time to decompress, take a break from work and possibly socialize.

Your daughter may be requesting time outs because she realizes that, occasionally, she needs a break. If this is the case, you are using time out appropriately, so go ahead and let her have the break she needs.

On the other hand, if you are using time out as punishment, she may figure she has done something wrong and needs to serve her time-out sentence. A third possibility is that she’s heard other kids being sent to a time out and thinks it’s cool.