I grew up having timeouts when I was naughty. A lot of times, my mom simply said, 'Go sit on the stool,' and we knew we were being put in timeout (until we remodeled our house and then it was 'go sit on the stairs'- but that's another story). In timeout we would sit on the stool and think about what we had done and what we were going to change. When we were able to tell Mom how we were going to choose better next time, we were able to get off. It allowed us to have some time to calm ourselves down and think. I believe it was a positive experience and that is why I do something similar in my home.
My children 'sit on the stool' too. I don't really use it that often, only if they are fighting or being unkind and won't stop. We have a bar at our kitchen counter and I pull stools out to the middle of the kitchen and have the two that were arguing sit on them. They are allowed to get off the stools when they have sung 'As I Have Loved You' to each other. It has to be done together and they have to look at each other while doing it or they have to start over. It has never failed to work. They are laughing and smiling by the time they are done and the situation has been diffused. They don't even remember what they were fighting about. Definitely an inspired day when that idea came to my mind.