Categorized | Parenting, Toddler Discipline

Ways To Make Time-outs Work

Time-out is a non-violent and very effective way to discipline a toddler. Here are some tips to make time-outs work both for you and your little one.

Take Time-outs Together

Take a “positive” time-out together first before you move on to giving solitary time-outs. When your toddler gets unruly and starts to lose control, say something like “Let us take a break to read a book until we feel better.”. Stick to quiet activities such as lying down, listening to music or putting together a simple puzzle to help him calm down. Doing this together effectively stops the negative behaviour while avoiding the battle of wills that a more formal time-out can incite. It also teaches your toddler the importance of a cooling-off period.

Choose A Time-out Spot

Find a safe and non-entertaining area for administering time-outs. Your toddler should be secluded so he does not receive attention from others nor have access to distractions such as toys, TV, food and so on. His bedroom is a great time-out area. Just see to it that you are within earshot so you can still monitor your toddler.

Give A Warning

Once your toddler is ready for the traditional time-out, make sure to use a verbal warning so he knows that you mean business. If he is behaving in an unacceptable way, say “Stop kicking or you will go on a time-out.”. If he still does not stop, say “I told you to stop doing that, now you are going to have a time-out.” and take your toddler immediately to the time-out room.

Keep It Short

Set a time limit. Ideally, the length of time-out is one minute per year of age (e.g. 2 years equals 2 minutes, 5 years equals 5 minutes). Keep time-outs short since long time-outs will only make your toddler resentful which will only worsen the unacceptable behaviour. Use an egg beater, microwave clock or a digital watch as a timer and make sure he does not get out too early. If he leaves the time-out room before the timer stops, put him back.

Ignore Your Toddler

Keep your calm  no matter how irritated you are with your toddler’s actions. Any attention, even negative attention will only reinforce whatever bad behaviour your toddler is showing. Do not give in to his pleas and protests. Keep in mind that the purpose of a time-out is to give your toddler time to think about his actions. Stay in the next room and do not talk to your little one until the timer rings. If he makes a big fuss out of it, reset the timer and tell him that the time-out will only start once he is quiet.

Talk It Out

Have a post-time-out talk with your little one. Ask your toddler to explain what he did wrong, why such action or behaviour is incorrect and what he will do differently the next time. Listen to what your toddler has to say. Knowing the cause of his misdeed allows you to help your toddler to work through whatever the issue is and eventually stop his misbehaviour.

Provide Plenty of Time-ins

A time-in consists of happy and enjoyable times together. Doing positive things with your toddler makes him realize how good behaviour produces positive results which emphasizes the power of time-outs.

A time-out is not a punishment, but rather an opportunity for your toddler to learn how to handle his actions and frustrations. Always mean what you say and over time, you will need to use time-out less and less.

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