time out time baby toddler

Why can’t I always do what I want

The Husband took this really awesome picture of Princess A in Central Park.

She is an awesome baby but like most kids her age is asserting her independence now and acting out. Usually, I am able to redirect her behavior and she goes onto the next activity forgetting what she was upset about. Yesterday, she decided it would be fun to throw diapers and toys at my head. I tried to get her to do something else but she refused and kept laughing at me. We had tried time outs a couple of months ago and the message was totally lost so we stopped. But yesterday I decided to try the time out thing again.

So I put her in her crib and said she was in time out because she kept throwing things at my head. I told her she would be in there until the second-hand on the clock hit 6 which was one minute. She threw a fit but when I took her out she went and played with her zoo and didn’t throw things at me.

I didn’t know if she changed activities because she learned something from the time out or if she was so upset she forgot what she was doing before. Whatever it was it worked. It got my wondering how long do you put a kid in time out for?

Before I put her in the crib I thought I would tell her she had to calm down before time out was over. Once I put her in time out I realized that might be a little too advanced for her and arbitrarily decided on 1 minute. It sounds like a short amount of time but for her it was an eternity.

Whenever I talk to people about time out or read books everyone says time out is a good way to go but no one ever says for how long. Since I am a newbie mom I was wondering how long should a time out last? Do you decide by age and maturity level, the crime, or wait till your child has calmed down?

Stay Glamorous,

Shannon Sutherland

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14 Responses to “TIME OUT TIME”

  1. Melissa July 19, 2012 at 1:24 PM #

    I’m not sure of the current recommendations, but when Nick was little it was 1 minute for each year of age. It sounds like it may have worked. The only thing you can do is just try to implement that, but the bed is not a great place to do that. She will begin to associate her bed as a punishment. We had a “time out chair” but even just a spot on the floor would work I think.

    • Vicki July 19, 2012 at 1:36 PM #

      That’s the rule of thumb childcare professionals go by too – 1 minute per year. I’m no expert mommy yet, but I’d imagine putting Amelia in time out for longer than a minute or 2 would be counter productive and she’d get more frustrated rather than calming down or moving onto the next thing. Could be wrong, but you’ll know by trial what to do 🙂

      • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:04 PM #

        The one minute seemed just about right for her. I think if I left her there longer she would have just been upset about being upset. maybe when she is older I will do time out until she calms down but right now I think 1 minute per age sounds just about right.

    • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:06 PM #

      Melissa, I agree with you about not using the bed. I only used it because I didn’t have anything else. We have a small apartment and don’t have room for a playpen. We tried a chair but it was hard to get her to stay in it. I might go ahead and get the pack and play out until she is old enough to sit in a chair because I don’t want her to have negative feelings about her bed.

  2. Karen Dent July 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM #

    I also did one minute per year of age. I look at time out not only as a way to help them calm down, but also as a way to just remove them from the situation. Often that is enough of a distraction to stop the behaviour. Eventually she will learn that if I throw things at mommy’s head, I have to go to my crib. She likely didn’t learn from just one time out, but if you consistently use it, she will learn.
    Consistency is the key.

    • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:03 PM #

      Good point Karen. Consistency seems very important especially Princess A she loves having a routine and normal bedtime so I assume consistency with discipline will work best for her. I am starting to think the 1 minute per age is best as well. Everyone here seems to agree on it and I emailed my pediatrician today and she said 1 minute per age as well.

  3. Melody July 19, 2012 at 2:47 PM #

    I just put my daughter in time out for no more than about 5 minutes. Just enough time for her to calm down. Usually after her time out she finds something else to do and forgets about what she was wanting or mad about. It doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does.

    • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM #

      It’s crazy because before I was a mom I would have thought 1-5 minutes would be too short of a time out but when I gave her a 1 minute time out it felt like forever!

  4. Lisanne July 19, 2012 at 4:52 PM #

    You can also give warnings to Amelia (maybe a little older because she won’t understand totally now). You can use the “street ligts system”. For the first warning, you gave her a “green light”, the second one is a “yellow light” and the last one is the “red light” and mean a punishment/time out. Sure, you have to explain to her the idea of the warnings first, but from what I know, kid learn fast. Paired with the time out thing, it give the kid time to think about continuing doing what they do, the effects of it, etc.

    • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 6:57 PM #

      I like the warning. Princess A used to through a fit when we left the play ground but when I tell her we are leaving in 10 seconds and count to ten it gives her a chance to accept the fact we are leaving.

      • Megan D July 19, 2012 at 9:27 PM #

        I also like the idea with the lights b/c it is teaching her something else without “TEACHING” it. I don’t have kids but I spent a lot of time with my niece who is now 6 during her early years. Her mommy does the one minute for each year of age too. She too used it as a calming time too when it was b/c of a tantrum. Afterward they talk about WHY she was in time out and there are hugs and an apology.

        I also agree about not using the bed. With her young age it is a little more difficult BUT don’t wait to do a timeout if you are out and about. My niece has had time outs in bathrooms, out at the car, and in the corner of stores. I can still picture my niece standing in the corner at a Target. I put her there because I had to keep things consistent when I had her for longer periods of time.

        • Shannon July 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM #

          You raise a good point about how I will need to do time outs when we are out and about. I never thought of that! So starting tomorrow I work on getting her to sit still during time outs… and not in the crib.

  5. Karen Dent July 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM #

    The stop lights is a good idea. I did the 1, 2, 3. If I got to three and the behaviour hadn’t stopped they were off to time out. To this day if they start questioning something I have told them to do, I just have to start holding up fingers. I don’t even have to say the words 1, 2, or 3. Now by the time I get one finger up they are doing what I tell them.
    Funny thing about time out. When David was about Princess A’s age, Katie was 3. If I told him to go to time out he would try to get out of it (of course). Then I noticed he would look to Katie. If she said “yes David you have to go.” He went without question. If she didn’t back me up, he would fight the whole way. The most common phrase in my house became “remember I am the Mom!”

  6. Jess July 20, 2012 at 9:57 PM #

    I’ve never really had traditional time outs. They just never worked with Warren. Of course he and I shared a room until recently too so I couldn’t just send him to his room to calm down. Too much of my own stuff that he would attempt to destroy when mad to worry about. I used to hold him firmly in my lap until he’d calm down. (Never hurting him or making it impossible to move, just enough to keep him there.) He’d struggle for a minute or so then he’d end up hugging me and crying. It calmed him down and also gave us a chance to have a little talk about what he did wrong and why he couldn’t do that. I’ve only ever had to do it once but I brought him outside of a restaurant when he just wouldn’t listen. More than anything he learned right away that when I say we’ll leave, we do. I flat out told him if he kept up his behavior I would just get our meals to go (since we’d all ready ordered) and we’d sit in the car so my parents could have a nice meal. Thankfully we were at a local place in town so I didn’t care about waiting lol. He behaved perfectly after that. No fun in the car without his grandpa there. Now I’d probably send him to his room, but really, the most I have to do now is talk to him and tell him he needs to stop doing what he’s doing and why.

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