K..anyone interested, my sister emailed this wonderful advice based on years of behaviour management classes and personal experience with her preschool students. Thanks, Amanda!
For time-out to be effective it has to be:
a) Away from positive stimulation (boring, but not painful at all!)
b) Enforced (she has to be made to stay)
c) Predictable (a set length of time, usually 1 minute per year of age. Longer than that is pointless considering their attention span.)
Ideally, if you were teaching a child behavior guidelines, when they crossed the guideline, you would say "Don't do that again, or you will be in time-out."
All children do it again, cause they want to test you. Immediately remove them from the situation and place them in their time-out area (carpet square, chair) and tell them they have to be in time out for X minutes.
If they scream, ignore them.
If they don't stay in the time-out area, put them back ("stay here") and start the timer over.
If they still don't stay, hold them there. They will struggle but do not speak to them, lecture, or make eye contact.
After the appropriate amount of time, take them away from the time-out area and have a SHORT discussion about what happened.
The next time they test their boundaries, they will have a good recollection about what "Time Out" is. It will be an unpleasant memory, and they might (maybe) think twice about misbehaving.
Also, counting is a no-no! Don't ever say "Get overhere right now! one.... two.... I mean it!...." etc. That is not only ineffective but it shows the child that they have until you get to 3, and that just prolongs their compliance.
She also says that Time Out often doesn't work because it isn't done correctly.