Should You Put Your Toddler On Time Out?

By in Parenting on 16 September 2011

Parents have different ways of instilling discipline to their child. They mostly rely on their own judgement when a child does something wrong like throwing a tantrum or hurting others. Some parents may simply turn the other cheek while others may resort to punishment. Somewhere in the middle lies the “Time Out”.

A child typically gets a “time out” when he, after being told to stop, still keeps on with his wrongdoing. The child is asked to go to a quiet spot to stay calm for a brief time period. It can last from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on the rules set by the parents. The purpose of the time out is to take the child away from the heat of the situation and give him some time to reflect on what just happened. In effect, it also gives the parent some time to cool down her nerves.

The aim of this disciplinary action to let your child learn how to calm down and control his behavior. During this time, the parents ignore any interaction with the child. Since most toddlers have a short attention span, time outs may not entirely work for them. It may be enforced only for a few seconds, before your toddler leaves his spot. In this case, you can choose to send him back to his time out spot or just let your toddler be.

Speak to your child about his mistakes and let him know that it is the reason for the time out before temporarily withdrawing your attention. At age 1 to 3 years, a toddler may be too young to be given a serious time out. So, don’t force your child to finish an allotted time out, especially if it’s being enforced for the first time. Instead, take a breather and appreciate the fact that he is slowly learning the concept.

Many parents use this disciplinary technique because it is non violent. However, lack of follow-through may confuse your toddler. When you decide to start time outs, make sure you are consistent in your rules about it – its location, time frame and the lack of attention the child gets while at it. This deprivation of attention is only temporary, so do not forget to hold your child and continue to shower him with love after the time out, and more importantly when he does a good deed.

Also consider the gravity of the misbehavior before putting your little one on time out. Sometimes, a toddler’s tantrum can easily be stopped by diverting his attention. For a child too young to understand a lecture, maybe giving in to his needs is not such a bad idea. Avoid associating time outs with punishments, because this action is not meant to single out a child to humiliate him. It is also not an avenue to inflict emotional pain, so keep your nerves in control when teaching your child to take a time out.

The terrible twos may last longer for some toddlers. This simply means that parents need to be more patient in teaching their child proper behavior. Parenting styles can vary among families. The important thing is that the child is not harmed physically or emotionally to make a lasting effect on his character. In the end, it’s up to the parent to decide whether a child is ready to get time out or not.


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