So your little one is acting out again; therefore you send them off to time-out. Everything seems to be fine only for them to do the exact same behavior they were just in time-out for not even two minutes later. Though the parenting books make it seem easy enough when it comes to time-out, there is a lot more that goes into it than just sending your child to the corner. You have to actually TEACH them what they are doing and help them LEARN to not do it again. So how do you actually do this?
Time-Out is Not Punishment
If you find yourself scratching your head at this statement, don’t be alarmed. Time-out is technically a “break” from negative behavior, but it should never be a punishment. By removing your child from the bad behavior you are showing them that it will not be tolerated and therefore you are TEACHING them what is wrong.
Your Child’s Temperament
If your child is going through separation anxiety or is particularly sensitive, time-out can make them feel as though they are being banished or punished and can actually lead to your toddler thinking you do not like them anymore. Time-outs are meant to be “self-calmers”; therefore if your child is unable to do this at that stage, then you need to find a different plan.
The Time-Out Spot
A time-out spot needs to be dull, drab and utterly boring. Your child has to realize that when they go to time-out it’s not fun; therefore they don’t want to go there again. Things of interest such as toys, TV and even books should be no where near the time-out zone. It should also not be on his or her bed. Using the bed for time-out can make your child associate the bed as a bad place. Never use a closet or dark space either. Again, you are not punishing your child – just breaking from bad behavior. A method that has proven wonders is the time-out mat. Purchase a mat to place in a corner of your home and deem is the “time-out zone”.
When you say time-out and point to a corner, your child may not understand. Physically walk them to their time-out zone until they learn where the time-out zone is.
If you tell your child they are going to time-out for the behavior they are doing, then take them to time-out. Every time you go back on your word you are teaching your child that the behavior is acceptable. Take your child back to their time-out spot as many times as you have to (yes even if it’s every five minutes) so they know you mean business.
Time the Time-Out Right
Have certain time limits for particular offenses. If your child acts out, screams or hits, send them to their time-out zone for a minute. After that minute if they do the same behavior again, increase it to two. Never allow your child to sit over five minutes when they are just a toddler. By then their attention span has long passed over the reason they were there. A kitchen timer is a great way to time time-outs.
Time-Out is Not Your Fall Back Plan
Every time your child acts out they should not hit the time-out zone. Simply give them a warning that that behavior will reserve them a spot in time-out and when they do it again, send them to their spot.
Reinforce the “Why”
If you send your toddler to time-out, they need to know why. Sure they hit you and now you are taking them to time-out, but a toddler’s mind does not work so quickly as to pick up on their action and your resulting actions. Therefore you need to explain to your tot as you guide them to time-out why they are going. Don’t babble on and on either. Your tot will listen to the first few words and completely fade on the rest (short attention span) so you need to say simply “Time-out for hitting. We do not hit” and put them in their time-out zone. When time-out is over, you will then remind them why they were there “You were in time-out for hitting. We do not hit”. This is very important if you want your child to realize what behaviors sent them there and quit doing them.