Using the advice of Daniel’s pediatrician (as well as my parenting bible, What to Expect: The Toddler Years), I’ve been disciplining the little guy with time-outs ever since he was a year old.
That seems to be a fancy-shmancy way of saying “standing in the corner.” I find a clear corner, place him (standing) in the corner, and usually stand guard (without looking at him) so he doesn’t leave the corner. Then, I count silently and slowly to 120 (or two minutes) and then I kneel down, turn to him, remind him why he was put in time-out, why it was important that he doesn’t misbehave (I usually couch it as a safety issue), tell him I love him, and give him a hug. Then, he leaves the corner, none the worse for wear — usually smiling and ready to play.
I’ve only had to use it in the house, and what I do is, if Daniel misbehaves, I tell him, “No” or “Down” or “Leave it” or whatever is relevant. I give him three chances to comply (sometimes with my distracting him or bodily moving him). If he misbehaves a second time, I say, “If you do [insert bad behavior] again, I’ll have to put you in time-out. Do you want a time-out?”
He usually says, “No,” and then does something (not-bad) else. But the few times that he ignored me — off to the corner he went.
However, I’d forgotten the whole “second time means time-out warning” when, a week or so ago, Daniel discovered the water drain plug in the back of the new portable a/c unit in the music room. Yup, he pulled it open, and water drained everywhere back there. As the Hubby hastily put back the plug and he and I blotted the wet spot with dish towels, I turned to Daniel and said, “Daniel, the next time you do this, you’ll be put in time-out.”
BANG! Daniel tore out of the music room like a rocket. Following him, I saw him do an amazing thing: He found the corner where the stuffed animal wicker basket lives, and he tossed it aside. Then he PUT HIMSELF IN TIME-OUT.
It was so unexpected, that I almost started laughing. But I stifled myself, as I didn’t want Daniel to equate time-out as a FUN thing. While the Hubby stood guard and counted to 120, I kept my hand firmly over my mouth, breathing through the giggles that threatened to explode out of my face.
OMG, that was the CUTEST thing Daniel has ever done, to date!
So, yes, my dear readers: time-out actually works.