Time-outs

Tricia - posted on 12/27/2008 ( 16 moms have responded )

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When do time-outs start to be effective and should be implemented? I know people say 1 minute for each year of age, but when to start. My little guy will hit my sliding glass door or throw toys at the dog, so I have scolded him and when he fails to heed my warning, I will put him in the corner for a timeout, but I don't know if I am doing wrong by him. Advice?

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AmyBith - posted on 01/07/2009

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kristin, i think you bring up a good point about when another sibling is involved. i have an only child and i think that i would agree with the attention thing if there was more than one kid vying for it.

Amber - posted on 01/07/2009

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I just started time-outs and they actually seem to be working for me. I give her a warning or two, and then I sit her in the corner. I have to walk away and ignore her (which is really the "punishment"), but she'll stay in the corner until I tell her she can get up. She understand the time out, because if she's doing something she's not supposed to, I ask her if she wants a time out and she'll shake her head and usually will stop doing whatever it is that she's not supposed to be doing.

Katie - posted on 01/06/2009

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They are probably to yound to understand the concept of timeouts at this age. I personally just flick or spank her hand for whatever she has done after the 2nd or 3rd warning if she continues.

Kristin - posted on 01/06/2009

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I think that to do a time-out at this age is more a distraction tool than an actual punishment. The only time I put my 17 month old in a "time-out" is when she hits her older sister. She sits by the wall while I comfort her sister. She doesn't understand (hello? she's one... ) that what she's doing is wrong but she knows that she doesn't like when I pay attention to Sis. Some may perceive that as "withdrawing my love" but I don't think that's what I'm doing. She sits for maybe a minute and then I love on her AND sister. I like the idea of sitting down with her and talking to her about what she's done but I feel in that instant that she's won my attention and that her sister, who's the injured party, gets ignored. I don't want her to learn that all she has to do to get me by herself is beat on her big sister! In all other situations, redirection works pretty well... or flat out distraction. Hey! Where's Abby? (Our dog... who my little one LOVES!)

AmyBith - posted on 01/02/2009

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thanks for responding, susan. sometimes we just have to clarify ourselves to realize we're really on the same page.

Susan - posted on 01/02/2009

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Oh, I should also put a disclaimer that I seem to have the mellowest child in existence most of the time, so I should certainly NOT be telling anyone how to discipline their toddler!

Susan - posted on 01/02/2009

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Hiya,
When I spoke about timeouts I was referring to the "traditional" version where the child is sent away from the situation to be alone, either in a corner or in his room, just generally in isolation. That's what I meant by withdrawing your love.

I think it's awesome what AmyBith is doing, sitting with her little guy and talking about it. That's pretty much what I do. I try to talk about the situation and what emotions he might be having right then, such as being frustrated or angry or sad or excited. This usually helps him mellow out and then we can go back to playing happily.

Deni - posted on 01/02/2009

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I agree with AmyBith. I think that every child is going to require different techniques to introduce discipline. I hadn't thought of a timeout as withdrawing love and attention. I hold Jack in my lap and speak calmly and slowly. I know he doesn't comprehend all the words, but I do know he understands the tone and will develop an understanding of the words. Susan suggests repeating the behavior you want your child to have...calmly petting the dog, for example. I agree that these are important parts of discipline; learning by example. But I also feel that children should be corrected if the unwanted behavior continues. The correction doesn't have to be negative or painful, but it must get your point across and repetition alone may not work for many children. To me timeouts seem to be the most effective, least harmful way to correct unwanted behavior. I am genuinely curious what Susan does for discipline as an alternative to timeouts.

[deleted account]

My son just started acting out. He bites (or should I say nibbles -- he knows not to hurt but is acting out to get attention) and he pinches. I have been curious about whether time-outs work at this age. I have been putting him down on the floor, saying "no biting" or 'no pinching" or "that hurts mommy" and then I stroke his cheek and say 'gentle." I feel conflicted about withdrawing affection to punish him but on the flip side I want my son to learn limitations and need to address the bad behavior.

AmyBith - posted on 01/01/2009

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susan, i think it's interesting that you say i'm withdrawing my love if i put them in timeout. that's a new perspective for me. i'll have to think on it some more to fully process. but when i give mario a timeout it is in my lap with my arms around him. talking gently in his ear. because he's biting there isn't an alternative to redirect. i think it's important for him to be removed from what he's doing and focus for a few seconds on what he shouldn't do. he's already understanding after a week to recognize the word timeout and has started repeating no biting. and he's biting less frequently already too. so i guess my response is that i feel good about our progress and i don't feel that he's getting a mixed message about my love. i think it's also important for us to remember that every kid is different and your kid may not have a temperament that requires timeout.

Joanna - posted on 01/01/2009

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I was thinking of starting time-out but decided against it untill my daughter is a little older so that she can be fully awear of what is happening. I know hse understands what I am saying to her but after a while she may have forgotten what I have said. Time-out cant realy work untill your child can understand that you want them to stay where they are for a period of time and why you are doing it, also to be able to retain the information you have given them. Just a little longer a few months or so is what I am aiming for.

For now I am just guiding as best I can and as clamly as I can.

Susan - posted on 12/31/2008

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Personally, I'm not a fan of time-outs because by the time your child is old enough to connect the misbehavior with the consequence (which is much later than we'd like to think), a time-out no longer seems like punishment. Consider the message you're sending: I want you to behave differently so I'm withdrawing my love and attention for a period of time. How is this effective? How does this teach the lesson you want him to receive? All it does is teach him that your love is conditional, which is the one thing it should never be. Saying "I love you but you have to be in time out" makes no sense for these little ears. A time-out creates a vacuum of behavior, and is very difficult to enforce without a shouting match or other negativity.

I think it's more effective to repeatedly, and with love, show him the behavior you want from him - whether it's to touch the dog peacefully and gently, or just to do something constructive like playing with a different toy instead of smacking the glass doors. Give him a specific thing he SHOULD be doing, instead of isolating him because of what he should NOT be doing.

AmyBith - posted on 12/29/2008

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i just started this too. and like deni i give a warning and say if you do it again mommy will put you in timeout. my stepson is 13 and he's learned to do it as well when mario bites him. i find that counting down from 10 at the end let's him know it's almost over and he calms down before i let go. i think it will take time, so i'm sticking with it. it's better than the alternatives--like biting back, hitting and yelling. and they have to learn some discipline or they won't be happy adults.

and to the tantrums in public. i'm all for removing them from the situation. i just pick mario up without talking to him and leave. really it's not worth the hassle in public. lessons are for more private time.

Deni - posted on 12/28/2008

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I'm trying time outs too. I'm trying to give two warnings and on the second tell him that if he doesn't stop he'll go into time out. When he doesn't listen I hold him in my lap and count to 30 slowly. He hates sitting still so it seems to be helping so far. I'm finding that I have fewer second warnings. Redirection afterward is also helping, but some days are better than others!

Any suggestions on tantrums? I know you're supposed to ignore them and I can do that when we're at home, but I feel bad making others listen to that scream crying when we are out.

Tricia - posted on 12/28/2008

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That's exactly what I have been doing - I just don't know if I am starting too early. I, too, have to hold him in the corner and it is the longest minute of my life. I then tell him that "You're in timeout because you hit the puppy." I, too, will let you know if it helps. I also try distracting him to do something else so it is not always "no" or a timeout that he gets. The timeout is for when he is redirected but then returns to the exact behavior that he shouldn't. Thanks!

Cheryl - posted on 12/28/2008

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I just started giving my little guy time outs. I generally do it when he bites or hits and then I put him down on the floor for 1 minute. Only problem is that I have to hold him down there because he doesn't understand the concept of a time out. When the minute is up I tell him what he did wrong and that I love him, but he can't do that. I'll let you know if it works LOL

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