How To Use Time-Out In Your Classroom




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There’s no classroom without misbehavior. There are different ways to tackle problem behaviors in the classroom.

One way is to use a time-out. Even though it can be extremely helpful in classroom management, it must be used with care.

Just like other techniques, there are dos and don’ts of using time-outs effectively to manage the behavior of students.

In this article, we will explore the importance of time-outs in behavior management. We will look at how to prepare time-out spots or rooms. Finally, we will identify the factors and strategies to consider when using time-outs.

What is Time-out?

Timeout refers to a situation where the teacher separates or removes a student from the class or activity and places them in a spot or a room to have a moment alone.

With time-out, a student is allowed some moments alone from the class to cool off. It is often used in a situation when there are temper tantrums or flare-ups. It can be used either in violent or non-violent situations.

Why is Time-out Important?

Time-out is essential because of two main reasons. These are:

1. It serves as a negative consequence for the behavior that led to that. Normally, timeout spots or rooms are consciously prepared to have no stimulation.

This means there is nothing at the spot or room to keep the student busy or engaged when he or she is there. That causes inconveniences for him or her.

So with time, he or she will get fed up with boredom. This is critical in deterring students from repeating the behavior that led them there.

2. It is extremely useful in both violent and nonviolent flare-ups because it supports students to cool off.

There are normally things or issues that caused the tantrums that called for the implementation of time-out.

When the student is separated from those conditions, they will get time to come back to themselves. They eventually cool off and stop the behavior that warranted time-out.

When used appropriately, the above goals can be achieved by the teacher.

Timeout Spots or Places and How to Prepare Them

A time-out spot or place is a spot in the classroom or a special place/room outside the classroom prepared to help students cool off when they put up disruptive behaviors in the classroom.

What is the type of behaviors that warrant time-out? It is a consequence of dealing with repeated disruptive, hostile, aggressive, dangerous, and abusive behaviors.

How to Select a Time-out Spot/Room     

Having understood the meaning of a time-out spot, it is essential to know how to select an appropriate place for it.

For its effective implementation, the following factors should be considered:

1. There should be no stimulation for the student to engage in any activity at the spot or room.

2. It can be a spot or a special room designated for that. For example, the Headteacher’s office is designated for High School, and the school’s Counselor’s office is for Middle School in my school.

3. Be sure your time-out procedures and place meet the requirement of law in your setting. Different states and countries may have laws affecting the use of removal techniques such as time-outs in schools and classrooms.

4. If it is a spot in the classroom, the student should be far away from other students. This can be a corner in the classroom where the student can be free of any stimulation.

5. If it is a particular room used for it, do the following:

a. Assign a teacher or a specialist to monitor students while there are in the room.

b. The student is sent back to his/her class immediately if they cool down.

c. Make sure the room is safe.

d. Eliminate things that can scare the student. For example, don’t turn off the light in the room.

e. Provide a chair for students to sit in during time-out.

Remember, you can be innovative about time-out depending on the nature of your students and the behavior in question. But make sure it meets the best practices to become effective.

Preparing to Use It  

Now that you have selected the place for time-out, it is critical to prepare yourself and your students to use it. The following are some issues to consider when preparing to send a student to time-out:

1. Don’t lose your temper.

2. Don’t shout or scold the student.

3. It should be administered immediately.

4. Students must be quiet at the spot or in the room.

5. Students should be in the chair you or the assigned person for the time-out room, ask them to get off it.

6. Ignore excuses.

7. Ignore behavior of protest.

8. If a student refuses to go, you can send a trusted student with a cue card to alert the headteacher or whoever is responsible to come and take the student to time-out.

Time-out for Non-violent Behaviors

Now you have prepared yourself adequately to use time-out appropriately. It is time for you to consider how to use it for non-violent behaviors.

The following are some helpful guides to assist you in doing that:

1. Give a command for the student to stop what he or she is doing.

2. If he or she doesn’t stop, issue out a warning. Remind him/her that they will go to time-out if their behavior continues. When doing that, use a tone that is commanding and try to get eye contact as much as possible.

3. If the student doesn’t stop the behavior after the warning, send him/her to time-out. Try to get the individual to go on his/her own. Consider all the issues mentioned in this article on time-out.

4. After cooling off, it is time to release him/her from the spot or room. Before letting him/her leave the time-out, let him know the reason why you sent them to the spot. Don’t challenge or shout during the process. Let them know that you will send them to the spot if they repeat the behavior.

Time-out for Violent Behaviors

For violent behaviors, you have to modify the procedures involved in dealing with non-violent behaviors as mentioned above.

The steps for using time-out for violent behaviors are as follows:

1. Immediately administer time-out when the student engages in the behavior. Give a command for the student to go to the spot or room for the time-out. Use a commanding tone.

Let him or her know that they will be there till they are asked to return to the classroom.

The period for the time-out, here, must be longer to allow for complete cool off.

2. Consider implementing a restraint procedure if the student remains violent at the time-out spot. This can be repeated many times until the student accepts to stay at time-out for the specific time. Follow the procedure on how to restrain a student according to the laws of your setting.

3. When the student cools down, initiate the process to let the student join the class. In doing that, let the student know that the next time he/she repeats the behavior, she/he will be sent to time-out. Don’t argue, lecture, challenge, or confront the student at this stage.   


From the above, time-out is one of the most effective strategies for tackling repeated disruptive behaviors in the classroom. But you have to put in place the necessary conditions for it to be effective. We have seen all that is essential in administering time-out effectively. We recommend you follow them and remain patient; you will become effective in using them. But don’t forget to get innovative with the use of time-out, depending on the nature of your students and the conditions in your setting. Thank you for following through with us. Share for others to benefit.

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