Disciplining a two year old is no easy feat. They are right in the thick of figuring out life and it can be difficult to tell what sorts of discipline are actually sticking. I am constantly asking myself how best to teach this adorable little toddler that certain actions are not okay. We use time out an awful lot at our house but we’ve had to set some boundaries to keep him from spending the entire day in timeout and so he understands when a timeout happens.
*do you notice the underwear over his jeans?
When Timeouts Happen:
1. When it’s on the list– At our house there are 4 or 5 things little man can be put in time out for. These are things that he knows he isn’t supposed to do that we have talked a lot about. For us these things are hitting, saying shut up 🙈, shoving little brother to the ground. This way the consequences are consistent with the actions and little man knows what to expect.
2. When there’s not a more related punishment- I try to limit time outs to actions that are difficult to connect a more related punishment. For instance, when little man uses a toy improperly (like smacking his brother with it or throwing it down the stairs) the toy is taken away. But some things have a much less obvious connection. Take hitting for example; I can’t really take away hands for the day. (As nice as that would be)
3. When they need to be removed from the situation– Since hitting is such a tricky one for us I’ll use it as an example again. When little man hits someone it’s usually because he’s frustrated at them. By physically removing them from the situation it will better help them to calm down. It also teaches them that sometimes, when you are feeling really angry or frustrated, its best to leave the situation before you do something that you shouldn’t.
What time out looks like:
Where you have time out can make a big difference. When figuring out where to have it I try to consider these things:
1. There should be few distractions
2. It should be boring
3. There should be no other associations with that place- like their bedroom. I don’t want little man to think of the place that they sleep as where you go for punishment. Then they’ll associate sleep with time out
4. It should be somewhere you can replicate anywhere- let’s face it, you don’t just need time out at home. We just use a corner because it’s easily accessible. He sits facing the wall in whatever corner is closest and empty.
5. Make the length of the timeout age appropriate- You can’t put a two year old in timeout for 10 minutes; he’ll forget why he’s there. I like to start with a minute per year (of age) and adjust according to the particular child’s attention span.
6. Try try try to be nice- let’s be honest this part can be really hard. But we are going to be able to teach them the lesson so much better is we can keep our cool
When we have quiet time instead
At our house we use quiet time in addition to timeout and for a completely different reason. Quiet time happens when little man is throwing a fit, super upset, or just can’t let go of something little (or usually all three). I just take him into his room, lay him on his bed, and tell him he can come out whenever he is ready. A lot of times he acts out like this when he has been over stimulated or riled up and needs to be alone for a bit. This is not a punishment. It is just a time for him to regain his composure, take a little time to be alone, and just calm down.
Adults need alone time to keep their sanity and so do toddlers- they just haven’t realized that’s what they need. We do quiet time in his room where he has his bed, toys, and books. He knows he can play with his toys, read some books, or lay down for a bit if he needs. This helps separate quiet time from a type of punishment.Nicole