I been working almost exclusively with pre-schoolers the past 2 years at church and thoroughly enjoying watching Super Nanny. slate.com recently published a great article on effective use of the timeout.
It underscores what we (Evan and I), as behaviorists, have said before about longterm effective reinforcement - Positive/negative, Certain and Immediate consequences. I am not a parent, but I have experienced many times in a multitude of contexts how consistency and calmness results in obedience and respect. I'm pretty good about the immediate and the calmness aspects. I had not considered the timing. When I enforce a timeout with a child, I usually use terms like "take a break," rather than "time out," in part, simply to remove them immediately from the bad behavior and create a space where they can start over with new positive behaviors. I also try to name specifically what their doing wrong. Even though some things we have read have said to not provide an individual warning once the rules for behavior are laid out, I try to enforce the consequence after only one warning. That can be a hard thing to do.
The other thing I've noticed is that, even at a young age, the child will try to shift blame or include others in the correction. (This is true of tattling in general.) This may not seem fair, but I simply call the child on his/her own behavior. e.g. "I told you not to do this . . . not Bud. You need to think about your actions not Bud's. Etc."
I think this has been pretty effective because I think they sense I'm not there to make their lives miserable. They also know I mean what I say. And they will obey me, then, in other things as well.
These are some great kids!
What do you think about this article's definition of the time out? What would your greatest weakness be in implementing the technique according to the article? Any other suggestions in making the timeout effective?