This week, we started using time outs with Bug. You see, he is beginning to enter the phase that has been so enchantingly coined the terrible twos. Not that he is anywhere near terrible. Or even very badly misbehaved. But he definitely pushes his limits and tests us on a more frequent basis than in the past. In the past, if Bug was exhibiting some sort of defiant behavior, we just did our best to redirect him… which usually worked. We realized, though, that he is at an age where he needs to understand that there will be a consequence for his defiance.
Example: Thursday morning we were sitting on the couch watching Curious George and Bug turned around, smiled at me and then tried to bite me (which is something new). He wasn’t biting out of aggression or frustration… he was just testing his boundaries. I explained to him that we don’t bite and that biting hurts. So, he started trying to hit me (also new). I explained that we don’t hit and that hitting also hurts. Then he hit me again. I told him again, calmly, that we don’t hit and if he did it again he was going to have to sit in time out. And then he hit me again. Time out it was.
We have designated the bench in our living room for time out. We rarely use it, so it carries no negative connotations. These are the ground rules:
- Defiant behavior 1 time = tell him it is not okay and why
- Defiant behavior 2 times = tell him it is not okay & explain time out will happen if he continues
- Defiant behavior 3 times = time out… explain why he is going to time out
- Mom & Dad = stay calm. No yelling.
- Time out lasts 30 seconds (we’re still new to this, and at this point that is long enough)
- If he gets up, we start over
I’d to throw in here that I don’t necessarily view time out as a punishment. More than anything, I view it as a time for him to think about why he’s there. A moment for him to think about why it is not okay to hit, bite and not listen… just to name a few. On Thursday, we had two time outs. One for the aforementioned hitting and the other for not cleaning up Legos. This is a big rule in our house… cleaning up our toys… and he is usually VERY good about it. After this tearful time out, he went right into his room and cleaned them up. That evening, Hubby got to step #2 just one time and Bug changed his behavior.
Time out is something that I want to be consistent with, but it is not something I want to abuse. Also, the pictures in this post have nothing to do with time out. Or discipline. Obviously. They are just cute and I wanted to share.
When did you start “disciplining” your toddler… and how did you do it?