Time-outs can be an amazingly effective method of toddler discipline...but only if you do them right! Using time-outs is a great way to teach right from wrong without resorting to spanking or yelling, but when they're not done properly, they don't end up doing much at all. Here are five things to remember when using a time-out to teach your toddler.
- Make sure your toddler is old enough. Most experts recommend that children be at least three years old before instituting time outs. If you try time-outs too soon, kids dont understand what theyre being disciplined for, or whats expected of them instead. Wait until your child understands rules and the consequences for breaking them.
- Be consistent. Decide what behaviors youll punish with a time-out, and stick to it. No exceptions and no second chances, no matter how much your child promises to be good. Make sure to follow through on your threats, or else the time-out wont be effective.
- Ignore them. Once your toddler is in a time-out, dont give him any attention, even if he cries, begs, or throws a tantrum. Remember, the point of a time-out or any kind of toddler discipline is to deprive the child of attention in the first place! Also, dont forget that time-out is supposed to be a punishment, so no letting Junior pass the time with books, puzzles, games, or music.
- Recognize and reward good behavior. Make sure you praise a child when they do right, not just criticize when they do wrong. If you reinforce unsolicited good behavior with affection, treats, and prizes, it helps kids understand the difference between acting right and acting up, and helps give them a bigger incentive to choose good behavior instead of bad.
- Only discipline for true misbehavior. Small children are bound to be rambunctious - thats just the way they are! Make sure youre not punishing a child for normal boisterous toddlerism. Only use time-outs to correct deliberate misbehavior in instances where the child knows better. When kids are just being kids, try to use other toddler discipline techniques or just accept that sometimes kids have minds of their own!