Tuesday, June 29, 2010

terrible twos tuesday: the art of the timeout

This whole "terrible twos" thing, combined with a new little one is forcing Jonathan and I to figure out our disciplining strategy together as a united front. We haven't been a very routined household in that if we veer from the normal, it's no big deal. But with Hadley being, well let's face it, terrible, we are realizing that consistency is best for her.

Hadley is doing everything a normal two year old should be. She's getting into everything. She's testing us. She works up those crocodile tears and looks to see if she is getting a reaction. She pokes at her baby sister. And we get the occasional tantrum if she is removed from something she doesn't want to be removed fun.

Don't get me wrong, she is a great kid. Just at that lovely necessary developmental milestone.

As far as disciplining, we've been playing with the time out concept. Most of the time she just laughs when she is put on a time out and gets up and down, like it's a game. Sometimes she gets it and cries, but that seems like when we are really mad.

Plus, Jonathan and I seem to approach the timeout differently. He wants to put her in her room for several minutes. I want her to sit in the corner for two minutes so she doesn't view her room as a place she goes when she is bad (we, after all, need her to eventually sleep in there).

Clearly, we aren't doing it correctly.

In an effort to get on the same page, we did some research and found this valuable info that you may find helpful, too.

By Stephanie Brown at About.com

Create the right time out setting. Set up an area away from outside stimulus. Other children and adults can cause a distraction when you are wanting your child to settle down and think about his actions. The time out space should not be overly comfortable and no toys should be available.

Once you have designed the appropriate setting, here are some great tips for a successful timeout.

1. Issue a warning. Keep it short and sweet, no lectures, and tell your child the next time they do the behavior they will be placed on a time out.

2. If your child ignores your warning, put him on a time out and explain why.

3. Set a timer. Stephanie Brown speaks of the Super Nanny's approach to time outs. This theory implies an appropriate time out time is one minute for every year of age. If your child gets up, calmly put him back and restart the timer. Also, be calm and avoid any eye contact during this time.

4. When the time out is finished, explain to your child again why he was placed on a time out.

5. Ask your child for an apology for misbehaving and accept it if he apologizes. This step is optional, but one we will follow.

6. Forgive and forget. Move on to the next.

Of course, now that we have decided that this is how we will do a time out, we haven't had to do one. Hopefully that will stay that way, but that is a ridiculous hope. So, at least we have a game plan for the future.

Any advise out there?


  1. From working at a nursery school (me vs. SEVEN 18 month olds), and my own experiences with Pumpkin, I've found that the 1 minute per year of age isn't all that effective. Sometimes they need more than two or 3 minutes to get over the tantrum they're throwing. In our house, length of timeout is based on what she did, (i.e: biting = long, long timeout) or if she's having a temper tantrum, she stays in until she calms down.

    We use a special kid-sized chair in the living room, and keep it in full view of all her toys. I've noticed that the little ones tend to understand the impact of a timeout better when they can see what they are missing out on when they decide to misbehave. We also say "You did (insert behavior here), so you're going in timeout" so that when we give her a warning "if you open the trash can again, you're going in timeout" she can learn to make the connection between her action and the consequence.

    You'll figure out what works best through trial and error.

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