Creative Discipline: A Gentle Approach to Time-Out

time-in parenting technique

Have you tried to put your toddler into time out, but nothing seems to work? I struggled to keep Jolene in time out without feeling the guilt of locking her in her room.  

I managed to come up with a perfect Creative Discipline approach to time-out that takes away the blame & keeps up with my gentle parenting approach.  

During a time out, Jolene does go to her room & she can’t come out – but I don’t feel the guilt I used to & I’ll tell you why.   

Positive Parenting Time Out 

If you’ve read any gentle parenting articles or books, you’ll likely hear the term time-in instead of time-out.  

The biggest difference between the two is that in the gentle parenting approach you are supposed to stay with your child the entire time-in.  

I don’t do this.  

positive parenting time out

My positive parenting time out is more like “taking a break” than time out or time in. It’s a much more gentle approach than the sit in a corner, take everything away technique we are used to hearing about.  

| The links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure policy |

family meeting before time-in

The Family Meeting 

Your child needs to know what you are doing & why you are doing it. A young child won’t sit long so a quick 5-minute meeting to go over the rules will work.  

Tell your child that if they want to be with everyone in the living room they’ll need to follow the house rules. If they can’t follow the rules, they’ll be asked to go to their room for a break until they can.  

End the meeting by asking your child if they want to add anything to the meeting. Jolene looked at me like I was crazy, and didn’t say anything.  

It’s important to let your kids know that they have a say in the meetings as well. One day, I’m sure she’ll come up with something awesome to add.  

Here are the rules I went over for guidance: 

  1. No Screaming – She’s been screaming at the top of her lungs!
  1. When I say no, I mean no (no begging) 
  1. We eat at certain times throughout the day, not all day long. 
  1. No Hitting – Jolene has been hitting lately.  
  1. We also went over quiet time & bedtime routines (quickly).  

Setting up for the Routine 

There are a few items that I use that make this routine so much easier.  

  1. Nest Camera to watch Jolene in her room.  
  1. TV to play the time out timer or you could play it on an Amazon Alexa Device.  
  1. iPad to help refocus.  
  1. Door Monkeys so she can not come out of her room until the time is up.  
  1. Youtube to choose the timer or song that will play & a way to control your TV or Alexa from your phone. You could use a fire stick for this.  

You can also just get a TV with Alexa & Firestick built-in!

I kind wish I had grabbed this TV (& I still might!)

Your objective is just to get your child to stop doing whatever they were doing to earn the time out. It’s not to punish them. We are redirecting them.  

child refuses to go to time out methods

The Creative Discipline Parenting Routine 

First of all, time out takes place in the child’s bedroom. Make sure it’s a safe place.  

When Jolene breaks a rule or I’ve counted to three (using Magic 1-2-3) I let her know that she’ll be going to time out.  

I don’t yell at her or make her feel bad, I simply tell her that she broke a rule & needs to take a break in her room.  

Sometimes, she goes on her own & other times I have to pick her up and take her (& sometimes this involves yelling, kicking, and even hitting).  

One way or another, you need to be able to get your child to time out.  

Here’s the thing – once your child is in their room they are free to do whatever they want, in their room

The idea is that you are redirecting the behavior & allowing your child to figure out how they want to handle the situation.  

Once in the room, you start the youtube timer on the TV or Alexa device. This signals to your child that time out has started.  

I’ve found a 4-minute timer with kids music & a rainbow to play on Jolene’s TV. After it’s over, I’ve qued up a random youtube video to start playing.  

She will call me once it’s over & tell me she wants to come out. Keep in mind, I’m watching her the entire time with the Nest Camera.  

After Time Out 

Do not talk to your child after time out about what happened before.

When you let your child out, it’s a clean slate, let them know that you missed them & move on with your day!  

It’s so common to continue to scold your child after time out, “Now honey, why did you go to time out? What will you do next time?”  

This is a bad idea, the consequence has been given it’s time to move on.  

Most likely, your child doesn’t even remember why they were put in time out – there’s no need to question them & bring it back up.  

toddler screams in timeout help!

My Child Refuses to go to Timeout 

When you first implement this routine, your child will most likely refuse to go to timeout. You’ll need to get them there somehow.  
When Jolene doesn’t want to go, I pick her up and take her. It’s not an optional consequence. Once you say timeout, it needs to happen.  

Eventually, your child will realize that the running, screaming, and (maybe) hitting isn’t going to keep him out of timeout & it will start to decline.  

When your child refuses to go to timeout remind them that if they can’t follow the household rules, they’ll need to spend some time in their room until they can.    

Locking child in Room for Timeout  

I’m not here to argue if it’s inappropriate to lock your child in their room or not. I use a door monkey & therefore technically, Jolene is locked in her room during a timeout.  

The door doesn’t completely close, I can hear her & see her. I also use a nest camera to watch her for her safety.  

I would feel guilty holding the door closed & I don’t have time to pick her up and put her back in every time she comes out.  

Jolene doesn’t even try to come out anymore – so Mamma, don’t feel guilty about this.  

gentle parenting timeout

How long should my child be in their room? 

Typically, you will do one minute per year of life. Since Jolene is 4, I find a 4-minute timer. I have had her stay in there for 5 minutes in the past though.  

Sometimes, she won’t stop yelling for 4 minutes – so I have to extend the time.  

Final Thoughts:  

Honestly, I use Amazon Alexa for so much in my house. For some reason, it helps set up a routine & Jolene seems to like her schedule being announced.

I’m terrible with checking the time & sticking to a schedule, so Alexa does this for me. I love technology.

It makes my life a whole lot easier & I don’t have to continuously check the time. 

I’m a teacher & at home right now until school starts again (which I hope happens!) – but until then, this routine gets me through the day!

All you stay at home, Mammas have my respect! I want to go back to work. I love my child, but man is your child this needy?

Do you have a time-out parenting routine? 

I’ve connected with some amazing bloggers to share their best tips with you! Head over to check out their posts!

Cheyenne | Baby Bumps & Mom Buns

How To Get To 1m+ Monthly Viewers On Pinterest Without Using Tailwind.

Jessica | Mamma Bear Wooten

Photo Tips And Tricks To Help Moms Document Their Days

Demetria | Creative Mom Society


Lori | Hey, it’s Lori

The Best, Most Effective Way to Apply Waterslide Decal Paper

Ashley | Fairley Simple

3 tips to make your house feel like a home

Heather | Sex on a Weekday

Tips to Developing a Night-Time Routine That Works

Read More on Gentle Parenting Here 

You may also like these gentle parenting articles:


  1. Heather July 8, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    Loved this post! We definitely focus on “breaks” instead of time outs. I love the YouTube timer, I never thought about that. My daughter loves music so it would definitely give her a chance to change her tune. Great tips!

    1. Josephine July 8, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      Thank You! Yes, the Youtube timer helps so much – sometimes she’ll just lay on the bed and watch it! It’s super easy to control from my phone too!

  2. Kimmy Manzo July 12, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    This has so many useful tips that I will be using.

    1. Josephine July 13, 2020 at 5:17 pm

      I’m glad you like it! 🙂

  3. Jessica July 15, 2020 at 1:48 am

    Ohh this is so good. It took us while to develop our way of timeout but we’ve always done the methods part of their age in minutes. So my 7 year old gets 7 minutes while my 3 year old gets 3 minutes. And that has been good for us and them. Thank you for sharing

    1. Josephine July 17, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      my pleasure! I’m glad you liked it!

  4. Anne July 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    These are great tips! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Josephine July 17, 2020 at 9:53 pm

      of course! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Noemi July 17, 2020 at 5:48 am

    These are great tips! With the kids home all day i will definitely practice many of these! Thank you for sharing

    1. Josephine July 17, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      You are welcome! I hope the time-in routine works well for you! 🙂

Leave a Reply