Using time-out can be very useful, when used correctly. It’s when we threaten children with it and don’t follow through, or don’t do it correctly that it doesn’t seem to work right.
Here is the appropriate way to used time-out:
• Establish the time-out area and give it a name. This can be the “naughty corner”, the “time-out” corner – whatever you decide to use, stick with it and let your child know.
• When your child misbehaves, state your warning in a firm, yet controlled voice. Make sure you get down to their level, and ask them to look at you in the eyes. State that if they do the behavior again, they will go to the time out place. You want to state it something like this: “Please look at me. Johnny, if you throw your food again, you will have a time out in the naughty corner”. Be very clear and very controlled.
• If the behavior continues, you then immediately take the child and place them in the time out spot. They will cry and scream, and that’s okay. Let them have their fit as long as they are not in any danger of hurting themselves. They should stay in the time-out area for as many minutes that corresponds with their age. Two year olds stay for 2 minutes; 3 year olds stay for 4 minutes and so on. Make sure you set an egg timer or a timer on the microwave, and make sure your toddler can hear it when it goes off.
• If they have trouble staying in the corner, simply place them back in the corner, without arguing with them, yelling or threatening another punishment. The consistency of quietly putting them back in the corner will eventually let them know that they will have to stay.
• Once the timer goes off, you should again get on their level and explain to them why they were put there. It should go something like this, “Johnny, you were put in the naughty corner because you threw your food. Please don’t do that again.” Once that statement is made, ask them to apologize for their behavior and then make sure you hug them, kiss them, and tell them you love them. They should then be free to go about whatever activity they were doing.
It’s not easy disciplining your toddler, but doing it now will be beneficial for both of you later on. Remember that consistency is key, and not getting angry or showing your frustration will help the time-out method work wonders.