Taking Time Out

I remember my one-and-a-half-year-old testing all the boundaries. He knew exactly what “no” meant, but would still try to climb that shelf or open the fridge. After correcting and redirecting time-after-time with no results, I referenced one of my favorite reality shows, “Super Nanny,” for guidance and put him in a corner for timeout. He sat there! It was like this corner had some magical magnet attached to his bum. Per the nanny’s advice, I started timeout for one minute (a minute per year of age) and after that one minute, I came down to his level, explained why he was put in timeout, gave him a hug and sent him along. All was better. I was amazed! A few days later, tested the timeout “trick” in front of Dad. BAM, the kid went to timeout on his own, sat there for his minute and ended completely “reset.” Dad was in awe, and I was a super mom! My son is three, and this is one of my biggest parenting successes. Since we started timeout at such a young age, I’m convinced he’s programmed to respond. We’ve been in Target and he will be having a meltdown, I tell him to go to timeout, he finds the closest corner, sits his butt down and completely resets.

Here are some tips to make timeout successful in your home:

  • Timeout is a reset. Don’t treat it as a punishment, it’s a time to modify behavior & take a break from an unwanted action.
  • Timeout needs to be in solitude. To reset, your child needs a moment alone. Don’t talk to your child in timeout, keep other children away and reset in an area free of toys or distractions.
  • After timeout, explain why. At a young age, your child may not understand the cause and effect, but explaining to your child why they were put in timeout will eventually create a clear expectation of consequences for unwanted actions.
  • Every child is different. Timeout may be the most effective redirecting strategy for my child, but it may not work for yours. Consider your child’s personality and create a parenting strategy best suited for their needs.