Special Education: Effective Use of Time Out

Are you wondering how best to use time outs or reduce the need for time outs with your student with special needs?

In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, the Watson Institute shares strategies to help you implement an effective and consistent time out strategy to use with your students.

  1. Before implementing a time out procedure, determine the behaviors your student is exhibiting that is prompting the need for a time out.
  2. There may be less intrusive interventions you can use to reduce the behaviors instead of a time out, depending on the reasoning behind the need for the time out. These procedures include:
    • Providing 4 times as much positive reinforcement for behaviors as you do for negative behaviors.
    • Implementing a systematic behavior support plan to teach and reinforce positive replacement behaviors that serve the same function as the undesired behavior.
    • If these interventions prove to be unsuccessful, consider a time out strategy.
  3. Create time out guidelines and set the expectations with your student before the undesired behaviors occur. Identify a time out area and use a warning signal with your student, indicating that a time out may be imminent when a certain behavior persists.
  4. Be consistent – make sure all staff are using the same strategy and time out process.
  5. Do not engage with the student while they are in time out. This is a quiet time for him/her to calm down so don’t talk to them until they are calm and quiet, indicating they are ready to leave the time out area.
  6. Keep a log of each occasion that time out is used with your student. What is the behavior that caused the time out? How long was your student in time out?

To learn more about strategies to help implement a time out strategy with your student with special needs, check out our YouTube video below and visit the corresponding special education resources page. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.