I'm having trouble with the concept of "time-outs" with my almost 3-year old. I feel like I don't have many extra rooms in my apartment to make her stay in, so where do I put her? She won't seem to stay put on a chair, and there are so few corners to stick her in. How do I make her stay there? I like the Supernanny suggestion of a time-out for however many minutes they are old. I just don't know how to enforce it. Do you use time-outs or something else?
Here's the truth. I've done a lot of time-outs - I used a short stool in the bathroom. I used them - calmly and on occasion out of anger. But, here's the thing, they never really worked. Of course, I felt calmer after a few minutes without a naughty child at my toes, but I don't really think it helped them learn anything. A six year old can sit and think for awhile. But, there are only a handful of little ones that can really process a time-out. Its just too long - and not entirely effective in my experience.
I understand the reasoning behind it - if you do something naughty you get a break from the fun. But, here's how I look at it; child being naughty means something - they want attention, they don't know how to use their words, they want to try out throwing toys like they saw their friend do, or they could simply be frustrated because they are hungry. But, there is a reason. And I like to find the reason and fix that.
Okay, remember: a child would rather have negative attention than no attention.
This was really a huge concept for me. And one of the first things I ask myself is how much attention I have given my child on the day they are really being naughty - are they getting more attention from this disciplining exercise then they would for just playing - do they just want more of me? I was around, but sometimes, not so available. So, first things first, make sure you surprise your child and come play with them the moment they are the most happy. The minute they are the most content - sit by them then.
Ok, now that you've done this and they do something naughty - know that its just a lesson they need to learn. So, think of it less of them having bad behavior - but more of them needing to learn a lesson. Here's what I would try:
1. Give the toy a lecture. You know, the toy that is being thrown. Pick up that toy and really discipline the toy. Tell that toy how disappointed you are that it would try and smash into mommy - or how much that toy hurt. Tell the toy the consequence - that he could break the lamp or make someone bleed - so badly they would need a bandaid. Then, make amends with the toy. Accept the toy's apology. Let the toy kiss your cheek (yes, tractors can kiss) and then turn to you child to elicit their help. "Please, oh please help Tractor to drive on the ground or on the couch but not to throw through the air." (This way you are on your child's side and you are helping them see the consequences, and ultimately teaching them the proper way to use their toy).
2. Or, if there isn't a toy involved - give their favorite toy a time out on a high shelf or the refrigerator. Do it immediately (really hurry to get the favorite toy and put it up high) and say with as few words as possible, "Jojo can NOT play with you when you hit mommy." And then walk away. This way, they aren't getting your attention for doing a naughty act - its quick and painless - and really gets a point across. Sometimes, its harder to see your favorite toy in timeout than to be in one yourself. Leave the toy up until (even hours later) you child is happily doing anything. Then, hurry and get Jojo down. And in that moment warmly say, "You are eating (or playing with your blocks so nicely) that Jojo has to come down. She just wanted to be with you so badly." By the way, with this way, you have to use the favorite toy of the day. So, keep your eyes opened.
3. Now, I know that Supernanny is a big fan of "naughty mats" but I am not really. Especially, if that's its name. It goes back to the whole labeling thing. I have used the word in this post a lot - but I try never to use it at all around my children. I just hate the idea that they would associate themselves with the word naughty. So, be sure when you discipline you state simply what they did incorrectly.
4. I do know someone who didn't have a timeout - but a time in - I think they called timeout Hawaii. And it was a comfy place - with toys and a few books. And the idea behind it is - when you child feels better they play better. So instead of punishing, they wanted to get their child out of a "bad situation"; which usually meant away from themselves for a moment. So, they would say something like "I notice you are having a hard time keeping the blocks on the ground, why don't you rest in Hawaii until you feel like you can build with the blocks without them flying through the air." I've never tried it - but its really about finding the right fit for your child and you.
So, in summary, give them a time-out if you could use one. But, here are a few other tools for your arsenal. As always, I do not have the market cornered. So, what works for you? The more suggestions can only help!
Painting: Van Gogh's Chair by Van Gogh