time for time out

I have turned a new leaf in parenting, and entered the great wide world of discipline. I now have a child who is capable of associating “punishment” (time out) with an act, and also of understanding rules and how to follow them. So far, we have done time out for only one thing: climbing on the table. She’s not allowed to stand, crawl, walk, etc on the table top, and this will extend to the counters and the piano, if she tries it. She has been telling the cats “no, no” (by shaking her finger at them) for doing this very thing, and she definitely knows she is NOT to get up there. But her job right now as a 19-month-old is to test limits, and to make sure there are no cracks in my consistency. My job is to provide security in the form of understandable and consistent rules. So here we go.

Things were quite a bit easier when it was just feed, burp, cuddle…

I follow the simple Super Nanny time out technique. She starts to climb up on the table, and she gets a warning. “No, M. No climbing on the table. Please get down.” At this point, she often thinks for a long moment. Sometimes she gets down, and for that I often say, “Good choice M! Mommy is proud of you for making such a good choice. High five!” (She loves high fives right now.) But often, with a sideways glance at me, she gets back up there. So I pick her up, take her to her “naughty corner”, where I get down on eye level and say to her, “I’m putting you in time out because you climbed up on the table, and we do not climb on top of tables in this house. Up on table, no, no. You’re going to sit here for one minute.”

Then I walk away. I make no eye contact with her, and there is no talking to her. If she stands up or moves out of her spot, I simply go and pick her back up and sit her back down in her spot. Her minute then starts over. Usually all I have to do is turn in her direction, and she scurries back to the spot on her own. She totally gets it. And she stays there. After her minute, I get back down on eye level and say, “I put you in time out because you climbed up on the table. Up on table, no, no. Please say you’re sorry to mommy.” She then makes an adorable little “kay” sound, and then she gets a hug and kiss.

Sometimes before I can even say, “You’re in time out because…” she points to the table top and shakes her finger “no, no!”. Yep, correct, that’s why you’re in time out.

Thank god for Super Nanny. I felt like I had a plan and I’ve been sticking to it! I’m sure it’s a small matter of time until time outs are being used for purposeful hitting or hurting, food throwing, or other such obstinacy, but for now redirection is working ok for all of that.

How do you begin disciplining your toddlers, fellow blogger moms?

Throwing one heckuva tantrum
Throwing one heckuva tantrum


Author: Mother of All Things

Mother by fostering, adoption, and marriage... wife to my best friend... Bay area critical care nurse... travel in my blood, reading in my bones, clean food on my mind!

2 thoughts on “time for time out”

  1. The book “1-2-3 Magic” is good for discipline ideas if time-out gets old or less effective. I also found that if you have a strong-willed child, you’ll have a lot of backlash when you introduce discipline. To balance it out, try also introducing new freedoms (real or perceived) and responsibilities. For example, allow her to run far ahead of you at a familiar park. Introduce household tasks, like wiping up spills, retrieving her own fruit/snacks, store her cups and bowls on a low shelf and allow her to choose when to get water and snacks. A 2-step step stool is a game changer at 19 months. She can wash her own hands, get water, turn on lights, put dishes in the sink, help prep food at the counter, use a butterknife, etc. It completely changed my daughter. She just wanted to feel like a contributing member of our household, and not just a baby who is dictated to and told “no” constantly. Find ways to say “yes”.

  2. I have had absolutely no success with time outs over the years as a nanny. They never decreased the frequency of the behaviors that I was trying to change. The created a rift between the child and myself and plain just didn’t work. I also think they don’t correlate to long term self regulation. I’m a studier of RIE and have been seeing improvement with it, not only with Wallace but with the two girls I nanny who are 4 1/2 and nearly 3 and are very strong willed and independent. A likes to chase the squirrels at the park and run away from me on the grass field. As we are walking to the park I have a little dialogue with her about how we don’t chase the squirrels and we stay on the playground. The days I remember to do that she does much better.

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