Time-Outs for Children

You’re probably tired of telling your child ten times to do something. It takes a great deal of energy to argue with kids.

Yelling at kids has been shown to potentially cause damage to a child’s self esteem. It can also teach kids that they should yell and argue when they are angry.

I recommend using time-outs for children who are 12 and younger. A time-out is time for the child to think about what they did wrong. It is used to stop bad behaviors, such as temper tantrums, arguing, and not listening. It’s also time for you as the parent to cool off as well. I recommend the 1-2-3 Magic, Managing Difficult Behavior in Children DVD, by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. as a good method.

How it works: After you have given your child a “prompt”, such as, “its time to come to dinner”, “turn off the game”, or “stop arguing”, if your child has not responded, you say:

That’s one

You don’t repeat yourself, threaten, bribe or yell. If they listen, your done. If they don’t:

That’s two

Again, no arguing, convincing, lecturing, yelling, etc. If they still don’t respond:

That’s three, take a time out

General recommended length of time-out is based on their age. A five your old has a 5 minute time out for example.

RULE: During the time-out, do not talk to them, lecture them, tell them what they did wrong, threaten that if they don’t listen, their punishment will get greater. Let them cool off. Let yourself cool off.

Getting out of time-out: Finally, at the end of the time, go to their room and ask them why they are in a time-out. We want them to learn to accept responsibility for the poor choice and identify the correct choice.

Likely, they will say, “I don’t know”, or, “because your mean.” At that point, turn as if to leave the room and say, “I guess you’ll need a little more time to think about why your in time out.” I anticipate that they will then immediately tell you an acceptable answer. If not, give them a hint or more time to think about it, depending on their age.

After the time-out, they should not be in further trouble. They should still have to do what you asked them to do.


Good luck, have patience, and please have both parents be consistent with this technique.

Therapist vs. Psychologist vs. Counselor

Do you know the difference between a therapist, a counselor, and a psychologist?


  • Have an advanced degree in psychology
  • Provide therapy, research, or are professors at a university
  • Are licensed by a state board at the doctorate level (Ph.D., Psy.D.)
  • Obtain the highest level of education and training
  • Assess and diagnose disorders and mental health conditions
  • Determine treatments based on the most effective evidence based research
  • Adhere to the highest standards of practice


  • Can include psychologists, professional counselors (LPC), marriage counselors (LMFT), life coaches and social workers
  • Can have any number of degrees, (MA: Masters Degree in psychology, counseling, social work)


  • One does not need a specialization to start practicing as a counselor
  • Instead of the behavioral approach adopted by psychologists, a counselor tries to encourage the patient to direct the treatment session.
  • In a broader sense, both psychologists and counselors are specialists who try to solve personal problems of people though adopting different approaches.

In-Depth Differences

A psychologist is trained to study human behavior and mental processes. Psychology degrees are available at all levels: bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate (PhD or PsyD – Dr. Steven Lazarus completed the PsyD certification). Advanced degrees and licensing are required for those in independent practice or who offer patient care, including clinical, child, counseling, and school psychologists. Dr. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist and a licensed professional counselor.

The PsyD, which was created in the late 1960s to address a shortage of practitioners, emphasizes advanced training in therapy and counseling. Psychologists with this degree can practice therapy but are required to complete several additional years of supervised practice with patients before becoming licensed.

A psychologist will assess and diagnose a problem and determine what’s best for care.

A therapist is a broader umbrella term for professionals who are trained—and often licensed—to provide a variety of treatments for people. Therapists can be licensed professional counselors, psychoanalysts, marriage counselors, social workers and life coaches, among other specialties. A therapist’s goal is to help patients make decisions and clarify their feelings in order to solve problems. Therapists provide support and guidance, while helping patients make effective decisions within the overall structure of support. When selecting a therapist, their education, licensing and professional credentials should be essential considerations.

Counselor is an unregulated term. Some counselors may have undergone extensive training, others may have little or no training.

Bottom Line?

Before you trust your health to a professional, be sure to know their credentials, background, specialties, and training!

Set up a free phone consultation with Dr. Steven Lazarus, Adult Psychologist in Littleton Colorado