Once your child is older, time out can be a great tool for any parent when trying to teach your child what is wrong and right. But, in the beginning, time out can be frustrating for a mother of a smaller child. My son started doing plenty of naughty things when he was very young. He was so much more mischievous at a younger age compared to my daughter. He would write on the couch with lipstick, throw things and break them, grab knives out of the dishwasher, etc. etc. As soon as he could walk, I was in trouble! And so was he most of the time.
Trying to implement time out in the year between 1 and 2 can be challenging. My son had seen my oldest go to time out before. He knew what it was. There were even some instances when I would say, “Do you want to go to time out?” He would nod his head yes, walk to the naughty chair, sit down and start crying. I couldn’t help but laugh.
But, what age is the right age? Until a child can effectively communicate what the “rules” are, or can understand the purpose of the time out chair, time out might just result in a struggle to keep a child in a place that he doesn’t even understand the meaning of. Usually around 2 or 2 1/2 years old, they can communicate more verbally, and it will be a better time to start doing a more rigid form of time out. However, until then, what can you do for that naughty behavior?
* I was going through a period with my toddler where he did not want to sit in his booster chair at the table. He would scream and scream when being strapped in and then refuse to eat. To solve the problem, I would simply go over to him in the chair and hug him until he calmed down. Then, once calm, I would leave him alone to start eating when he felt like it. He always would start eating again.
* Maybe sending a child to a certain location isn’t the best plan. Instead, try stopping their behavior right where they are and telling them they need to sit still or sit quiet for a minute. This will help them calm down and re-focus.
* Another idea is to go to the time out with them. Sit quietly next to them, maybe even hold them in your lap. That way they will feel comforted, and know that it is time to take a few quiet minutes to be calm.
* Get down on their level and simply talk quietly. I have witnessed my calm, level headed husband do this many times. When you speak softly, they have to calm down to hear what you are saying. It works like a charm, most of the time.
Being consistent is the key to any type of parenting tactic. If the child knows what to expect, that is your best bet for modifying bad behavior.