Time Out, Talk It Out: Our Discipline Strategy


I’ve never read a parenting book in my life. I sort of hate the idea of them. All this different advice from all these different sources – it gets so confusing. Instead, together with my husband, we’ve discussed and developed the ways we would parent when it comes to our children. Nowhere is our style more apparent than when it comes to disciplining.

Our Discipline Strategy - The Everyday Mom Life

I’m going to tell you straight out of the gate here that we don’t hit in any way. Both of us decided early on, even before we were married, that hitting/spanking wasn’t the direction we wanted to go. Obviously there are tons of studies out there on this subject, but instead of reading them we decided against this form of punishment based off personal experience. Neither of us saw it as effective and it just made us resent our parents, even if it was only for a short time.

Instead, we decided that we would rely on time outs, which have also recently been vilified by studies. Once we had a child that was old enough to actually need a time out for bad behavior, we decided that the time out alone was not enough.

We evolved our approach to disciplining to be a sort of combo that includes a time out, a talk-it-out and a hug-it-out strategy. Lastly, we also require the use of the words, “I’m sorry.” And, these words are not just for our daughter. We say them too.

The whole scenario usually goes something like this:

I repeatedly ask my daughter to stop doing something that is incorrect. I give her warnings that if she doesn’t stop she will get a timeout. Sometimes I get lucky and she listens. Other times we move on to the time out.

Now, I will tell you that I’m pretty strict about this whole routine. I believe that consistency is important for kids and I also believe that kids need to understand there are consistent consequences for bad behavior. I am stricter about this than my husband, which often makes me the “not nice” parent.

There are two types of time outs that might happen in our house. 1. A time out in the corner of the family room. 2. A time out alone in her bedroom. Usually, we start with a time out in the corner of the family room. She serves her time for four minutes if she behaves in timeout. Then we move on to the talk-it-out stage.

However, if she screams, cries and pulls a temper tantrum, which happens often lately, or physically acts out (tries to hit us, throws a toy, etc.) then she moves on to a time out alone in her room. Usually, we have to carry her there and the temper tantrum ensues.

Our Discipline Strategy - The Everyday Mom Life

We have added this step in the last 6 months or so. We didn’t need to do it prior to that time (and I don’t know that we would have used it) because timeouts in the corner and the talking had been working. Since about 3 and a half, her temper tantrums have sometimes escalated to the point where she is completely disruptive of anything else happening downstairs. Plus, her 1-year-old brother often goes and giggles at her in the corner, which doesn’t help anyone. It’s funny, but it doesn’t help.

Once in her room, we tell her that she can come back down after she calms down and is ready to talk. We close the door because at that point, the whole house is over the screaming. Sometimes she is up there two minutes. Sometimes she is up there for five minutes. It has almost never been longer than five minutes.

I’ve found that this time alone usually gives her enough space to take a few deep breaths, think about what she has done and eases the tension between us.

When she is done, she comes down the stairs on her own and we talk. We ALWAYS talk. The reason we talk is because my husband and I realized that time outs alone don’t really do anything. They provide a nice break between the actions involved with the bad behavior and allow everyone to calm down, but they don’t allow her or us to fully understand the situation.

We talk because we want her to understand what she did was wrong and, maybe even more important, how she can correct the behavior or avoid it in the future.

We also believe that talking it out will help to smooth things over between us. It makes everyone feel better when we understand her rational and she understands our’s. Since she is at an age where she often expresses emotion by acting out or crying, the talking helps us to understand what she was feeling at the moment that she started acting out and during the whole tantrum episode. I believe it is important to understand her feelings too.

Somewhere in the talking, we all say we are sorry. To me saying, “I’m sorry,” is very important on all sides. Once we have talked it out, she is at a place where she can sincerely apologize to me. Sure she might throw the words in as she is being carried upstairs to her room for her time out alone, but she isn’t sincere at that time and the sincerity is just as important as the words.

I also say, “I’m sorry.” I hate the whole time out process. I hate that she is mad at me throughout it and that I’ve done something to make her mad, even though I believe the discipline is worth it. I hate that I get mad at her. Apologizing as a parent helps me heal just as much as it helps her to forgive me. Whatever started the original incident, by the time it is all said and done I don’t want either of us walking away hurt.

Lastly, we hug and tell each other that we love each other. The hugging is healing for both of us and it reinforces the real love that exists. We always try to end on love.

I’m not telling you this so you follow “our” way. I’m telling you this because we have found something that works for us, something that I believe will help my kids to become healthy and happy adults that understand there are consequences for behavior. I fully believe you need to do what works for your family.

The experts out there are great, but they aren’t in your house. They don’t know your children. Take what they say, digest it and don’t worry if you don’t follow it to the letter. Find something, in all aspects of parenting, that works for you. Just make sure that each step of the way, it works for your child too.

Our Discipline Strategy - The Everyday Mom Life

P.S. – Just so you know, my daughter was not actually in trouble here and was just pretending to be mad. After we were done taking her pretend mad photos we went and jumped on my bed, which is totally allowed here. Isn’t she a good little actress? I’m in trouble.



  1. This is such a hard subject to talk about because it is so personal to people. Every parent goes through trying to figure it all out – great post!

  2. I love that you guys all say you’re sorry. I think as parents we sometimes are afraid to admit weakness or wrongdoing but it’s so important to show our kids that everyone can make mistakes! Love the “mad” photos too ?

  3. Aw… I really loved reading this post because you document how to handle tricky toddler situations, but share so much love. I especially adored the hugs at the end…

  4. I a hundred percent agree with you on this. Unless they know why they’re in a time out and understand it’s a consequence for bad behaviour, they will continue the bad behaviour.

  5. I have no had to discipline yet, since my babe is still- a babe! But, I always think about how we will handle situations when they arise! I love reading other mom’s experiences! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I have 3 little ones and they have all been so different with their timeouts. We pretty much go straight to the room now because if they can see us they will not sit still. Always an adventure when you are a parent. 🙂

  7. Talking is the best way to resolve the situation. I thoroughly believe that. I have never been one for spanking children. It seems cruel and it really only accomplishes one thing: putting fear into your children. That’s not the goal of punishment. The goal is to teach them right from wrong.

  8. You nailed it with the last paragraph.

    “The experts out there are great, but they aren’t in your house. They don’t know your children. Take what they say, digest it and don’t worry if you don’t follow it to the letter. Find something, in all aspects of parenting, that works for you. Just make sure that each step of the way, it works for your child too.”

    So many people are quick to offer their solution, their way, but they aren’t you, your home, or your child. There is no blanket one size fits all solution. Glad you found something that is working for you.

  9. Time out is a good strategy. I always had the child think about three things 1. what you did to have to go to time out 2. Did that help you get your way? 3. What might be a better idea for the next time? That would lead our discussion. The funny thing is that once the child knew my protocol, I’d get this: Can I answer the questions now without time out? I always had to say no, that the thinking time was important, too!

  10. Every parent disciplines differently and nothing wrong with time outs if used properly. My kids get a time out if they are hitting or fighting. It gives them time to cool down and thing for a minute. Then we talk about solutions. It also gives me a minute to regroup sometimes to figure out how I want to proceed.

  11. I agree saying “I’m sorry”s are important. My son is too little yet, but when he gets into trouble and after a telling off and he looks guilty enough (he’s 1, he manages that quite well), we ask him if he’s sorry and we’ll hug and sorry because we love him. My husband is on the same page about things like that too. =)

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  12. Time outs are a great way to help kids calm down and then have a few minutes to regroup and think about their actions before you talk it over.

  13. We also use the time out style method for discipline. It is something that makes the child think about what they have done (or we hope that’s what they are doing) and then we can discuss later.

  14. This is great advice! I love that you are open enough to share it. I do read a lot of parenting books, but tend to take them with a grain of salt. We do what works best for us (which tends to change a lot as our kiddos grow!).

  15. My boys react differently to discipline. We have to change it up for each of them. I love the book Parenting with Love and Logic. It’s helped us come up with some creative ways to discipline.

  16. Spanking doesn’t work for my daughter either. She would rather get spanked so she can get back to what she is doing. Time out works…but she screams the whole time. So I will need to try this where she comes out when she calms down.

  17. We’ve tried time out with various amounts of success; my son used to get so upset at the idea of the time out that it just wasn’t bearable to do it. So similar to you, we’d move into talking about it. I like that you guys all say “I’m sorry.”

  18. I am glad you don’t support hitting because I see it as abuse and time outs as you said is far more effective. Its great that you and your partner discuss options with each other.

  19. This is pretty much what we do with our 3year old. He’s quite the handful and hates going to his room – I admit we don’t talk as much as we should, but with a 1yr old in the house it’s hard to take that time to talk.

  20. I was always the mean parent, but I guess that my tactics were not a civilized as yours. My strategy works too… With my grandchildren when I tell them something they know I mean it. It may take the initial proof (a swat) but they do what I tell them…

  21. Every parent and every family has a different parenting style. There’s no “one” way that we all have to parent. Each child is different in families as well. I think talking things out with our kids as they’re old enough, is such a great teaching moment!

  22. I do believe that consistency is the key. The more you falter, the more a kid receives mixed signals, and feels more inclined to challenge the rules. I love that you have a talking session and a hug. Great pout photos…it looked like one of those professional stock photos.

  23. I completely agree! Time out is not effective in our home…THe talk it out method is much more effective. Great post and teaching point of all parents! Pinning and sharing now with other moms!

  24. I don’t have children yet, but my aunt utilizes a similar strategy. I don’t like to buy into mommy books either (even though I’m not a mom). I think finding what works best for your family, like you did, is the way to go! P.S. how cute is your daughter in those photos? Natural-born actress!


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