8 Alternatives To Time Out For Discipline

There isn’t a child on this planet who doesn’t act out at some point in their journey. I hate to break it to you – but it will be A LOT more than once as well.

In response to their behavior, why have parenting rules become about giving a time out or a time out chair? Children usually don’t respond well to this discipline and will often lead to further negative behavior.

Why not try some positive parenting when raising a toddler?

I want to look at helpful ways to encourage your toddler to deal with their emotions calmly, rather than racking up negative attention when they really need to learn golden tips from their parents to cope during times of stress.

Stay on their side, and take a look at your many choices below.

8 Alternatives To Time Out For Toddler Discipline

Why You Should Have An Alternative To Time Out For Discipline

Stress is an important part of learning. A healthy amount gets us through the bad times and allows our bodies and minds to work through whatever it is that causes distress.

That doesn’t start and end at adult age – that begins at birth. We shouldn’t punish our children for feeling frustrated or annoyed; instead, we should aim to work with them to develop their own tools and strategies to cope with stressful situations.

Time outs rarely lead to better behavior. In fact, studies show that even though parents think they know how effective a ‘naughty step’ can be – it actually has the opposite effect and can only make the moment worse for both parent and child.

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So what alternative ways can you divert their attention away from disaster and towards a more quiet, calm time?

8 Alternatives To Time Outs When Disciplining Your Toddler

toddler running on grass

There will always be tips from family or friends, but what you need is a complete list of strategies that promote positive parenting instead of breaking down communication within your happy house.

When you look up to the sky mid-tantrum and ask the gods of parenting for help, you need to remember that the help is already within you.

1. Get Outside

Everything starts with nature. It is the basis of our planet, and so often, we neglect the powerfully positive impact it can have on emotional and physical wellbeing. This is a great example of time-outs because you are taking time out without punishment.

Try to keep in mind that positive discipline has far better results for both parents and kids.

With fresh air and nature surrounding you, there is little to be angry about when your mind explores new sights, sounds, and smells. Using time wisely like this is what we should all be doing more, especially if your children spend a lot of time in front of screens.

2. Read A Book

Another calm way of taking time out is to find a book you know you both love to read together and make the experience a relaxed one. There is nothing bad to say about books. They find you at your lowest times and open your imagination.

This is a great example of recharging your batteries, and both parents and kids can benefit from the distraction of a great story that you can potentially laugh at and snuggle through.

Make sure that you use books outside of bad vibes and avoid associating them with feeling bad about yourself.

3. Baking

Divert negative energy away in the kitchen by allowing both yourself and your child the space to cook some yummy treats.

toddler baking

Toddlers love nothing more than a stir and a taste as they go along, and you can teach them the importance of using your own self-control to monitor times of stress rather than allow the stress to feed your moods.

Biscuits, cakes, or flapjacks – the choice is yours (or better yet – your toddler’s!) You really will both come out of it different people and with a snack to boot!

Be mindful here, though – there will be a mess.

4. Listen To Music

Think about when you were little and what music you had on in the house.

  • What music defined you as a family?
  • Do you still listen to those songs and feel a tinge of nostalgia?
  • You will probably agree that some music calms you down and others get you pumped and energized.
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That’s because you learned it through the art of listening and expressing yourself.

toddler dancing in kitchen with mom

This is a fantastic gift to give your child – music. It is free and so incredibly diverse, and if a moment knocking the wind out of you both, then turn away and face the music, literally. There are no rules, no age restrictions (with a few exceptions, of course…) on good music.

Dance, sway, sit and listen; allow them to feel. It would be a really welcome break for the both of you, and you might even learn a thing or two about genres you’d never before appreciated!

5. Choices

Sometimes the best thing to do is offer a choice to your child. When it comes to behavior, it is often about not having or being allowed to do something. As a result, you may see them use other strategies to get what they want, and you may not like it.

  • What do they wish to do?
  • Are they frustrated because you won’t let them, and can you come to a happy compromise?

If you give your child an option, you might be surprised at how quickly the mood changes for the better! Handing over the control – can come in handy at times!

6. Find Out Why

A child’s ways of getting cross and frustrated are by screaming or crying or having a huge strop. As a parent, you think by seeing the mood that a simple, ‘If you carry on like this, you’ll be sent to a time-out!’ will suffice but often, this is not the case.

To teach both you and your little one a healthy lesson is to ask the important question, ‘What is making you feel so cross?’

Give them the benefit of the doubt and try to allow them to talk and really learn from it. This is a great way of expressing themselves verbally instead of vocally (and believe me, there is a huge difference!)

The best thing to do sometimes is to just let them talk without judgment from you. You could both learn a thing or two! I would stay away from asking too much – but you know your child and can work out a healthy balance.

7. Five Minute Reconnection

Time out doesn’t have to mean sitting on a step or a chair for five minutes (does that really work?!) It does have a rather miserable habit of making people feel worse at the end of the time (if they make it that far). What is the lesson learned anyway? That shouting or being cross means you have to be punished? It doesn’t seem right when there are far better ways to deal with toddler tempers.

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Stop what you are doing.

5 minutes out

If you are trying in vain to put their socks on or eat their breakfast, or maybe they are not fully themselves today.

Do you ever have days where you aren’t yourself as well?

Things won’t improve if you don’t observe the give and take of non-ideal situations. One thing you might like to try is a good break!

It only needs to be a few minutes. have cuddles, make use of your child’s needs by pressing pause.

8. Get Arty

Art is a great way to take your mind off things and spend a little – or long time being creative. With its therapeutic qualities, it can help take your mind off what is troubling you, no matter what your age.

A good thing to do is to have a few coloring books handy for times when you may need that little bit of help in maintaining a calm house.

Another important matter to remember is that art is a good concept for expressing your feelings, especially as toddlers do not have the emotional intelligence always to talk.

Try allowing their art to say whatever they want to say and use as many colors as you want/can!

toddler painting a picture

Is Time Out An Effective Form Of Discipline?

While time-outs can and have worked for many other parents and me, it is not the only thing you should consider when disciplining your toddler.

Positive discipline techniques identified in this post will help drive your toddler out of whatever bad mood they find themselves in.

Be wary, though… sure, these are positive, and if your toddler catches on, they might use a tantrum to get your attention. The tips on this page are not just for discipline… these are things you should consider doing as part of a bigger, more positive approach to parenting.


As parents, we make lots of mistakes. Parenting is a learning experience for everyone, after all.

Your toddler will thank you for working with them and not against them, though. In freeing your child of punishment, you feed them the information they will need and use as an adult.

Worth isn’t based on how many mistakes you make, but how you pick yourself up after you fall.

Positive parenting doesn’t get better than that.

Good luck!


About ME

Let’s start with the obvious, I’m a dad.

I have 2 kids. One was dragged out from the comfort of his Mother’s womb kicking and screaming, and the other was a little easier.

Dad Gold was created to give tips that I wish someone had given me!

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