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Description of the Strategy

Time-out refers to a discipline procedure used with preadolescent children. During a time-out, the child is denied access to one or more classes of positive reinforcement for a brief period, usually 2 to 10 minutes, contingent upon a specific coercive behavior, such as noncompliance or aggression. When first introduced into the child clinical literature in the 1960s, the more apt but awkward expression “time-out from positive reinforcement” was used, since the procedure resembled one used to suppress mistakes by laboratory animals engaged in various operant tasks. Unlike a simple extinction procedure, the animal's mistake resulted in a brief electrical blackout or the temporary discontinuation of reinforcement for a previously reinforced operant. Different lab animals engaged in different learning paradigms ...

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