Two Chair Technique – Advice on Time Outs

Charles Emmrys PhD


To allow kids to get their bearings again in play after they fight, it is useful to take a short time out and to let them recommit to play.


  1. If the kids start to fight, tell them to go to the chairs.
  2. The kids are then asked to sit on two chairs that are 3 feet distant from each other and facing each other.
  3. Tell the kids to figure out how they will play together without fighting. When they figure it out, then they can let you know.
  4. When the kids have decided they will play together without fighting, they come to you and say --- We are ready ---- No other explanation is needed.
  5. Send them back to the chairs as often as you need. If you need to send them to the chairs for 10 or 15 times in a day that is OK. The more you send them, the better. The technique works even if the kids make a game of it.
  6. Never ask for explanations from the kids. The only feedback you need from them is “We are ready”.

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