Using ‘Time Out’ to Teach your Toddler

Toddlers need time out. When they get overwhelmed and act up, have a tantrum or do something that they have been told not to do, time out of the situation can be the best solution. Master the art of ?time out? and you can deal with your toddler’s tantrums and unwanted behaviour quickly and easily, every time. Some parents use the naughty step, the concept is the same, but beware that a child placed on the ?naughty? step may start to think that they are naughty and when they believe they are naughty, they will continue to live up to the title!

The ?Time Out? Process

1. You notice your child is doing something you told them not to do, for the purposes of this example, you have caught them drawing with a crayon on the wall.

2. You take the crayon and tell the child clearly and calmly that they are not allowed to draw on the wall. They must only draw on paper. Leave it at that. If this is the first time they have done this, and they didn?t know what they were doing was wrong, this is enough. Tell them in no uncertain terms that this is their warning, and if they do it again, they will have to have time out.

3. The little rascal does it again. They have been told not to, and they have done it again. Instead of getting angry and showing your toddler loss of control, tell them that they were warned not to do it, and now they are having ?time out?.

4. Place the child in a safe place where they can sit and where you can see them. Tell them three things ? why they are being placed in time out, that they must sit there for x number of minutes (how long they have to sit in time out should be a reflection of their age, so a 2 year old sits for 2 minutes, a 3 year old for 3 minutes etc.), and that they must stay where they are until you come back for them.

5. The tough part ? they must stay in time out. They may cry, they may scream, they may try whatever they can to manipulate you into lifting them. Resist it! If they leave the place you have put them, return them to the time out spot and tell them again why they are there, how long they will be there and again, tell them not to move. Essentially they are starting over. This might make the first few time out experiences difficult, but your child will soon realize that they are only making the experience last longer and should in time sit in the time out spot until the time is up.

6. When time is up, go back to the child. Tell them again why they had to have time out, and then tell them that they must apologize. Only accept a genuine sorry for your child. If they refuse or begin to tantrum, calmly place them back in the time out spot and go again.

7. When your child has apologized, it is time for the best bit. Tell your child you love them very much and point out that they are a good boy/girl and it’s not good when they do naughty things. This is much more constructive than telling a child they are naughty. Have a big hug, a kiss and get back to playing. Don?t mention the bad behaviour again ? consider the time out as the end of the issue.

In time, you will see positive results from the time out system. Your child will understand that what they have done is wrong, and they will be able to get distance from the situation. Time out helps the child understand their behaviour rather than giving confusing punishment or allowing your child to see you losing control. No more wondering about how to deal with a new unwanted behaviour, time out can deal with each problem in a fair and easy way.

Of course, every child is different and it may not work for some children. Whatever you choose to do, it is important to show them lots of love.