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Is "time alone" REALLY the best way to deal with this?

I've been researching the dreaded Terrible Twos to get a feel for some ways to handle them, and I came across a doctor who claimed that the best way to shorten, and even completely cure, the defiance that is typical of this age is to stop short of even reacting to the emotional swings - No punishment, no calming words, just tell the child, "You are obviously upset - I will leave you alone to let you deal with that." and then actually leave them alone. Ignore them until they go back to an even keel. This struck me as simultaneously smart and neglectful. If a child is tantruming, then sure - some time to calm down is a good idea. But isn't also the parents' job to demonstrate to the child HOW to deal w/ their feelings? By just up and leaving, aren't you setting the example that they ought to not only learn to deal w/ emotions all on their own, but also that emotions are something to be ashamed of? Thoughts?

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Asked by Iskkra at 5:31 PM on Dec. 6, 2009 in Just for Fun

Level 3 (20 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • Think of it this way, Are there not days when you need time alone? just to be left alone no one asking where things are, whats for dinner etc etc, just afew moments to destress? As long as you are keeping an eye on them they are not really alone kids get overwhelmed just like we do they have stress in their lives too. There are times when I have told my kids that they need to go spend some time alone and they always come back 30 min to an hour later feeling a bit better for just having some peace and quiet.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:39 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • Yes, but we are talking two year olds here. They don't have the coping skills to assess whether they need time alone or not. They most likely wouldn't even know what to DO with time alone - they would feel abandoned in a "time of need". Like I said, it seems smart to give them a minute to calm down, but to tell them, "You are upset, so I'm going to leave", in so many words, seems akin to telling them that you don't care about their feelings and they ought to just shut up and deal. I just am trying to figure out what kind of effect "letting them deal with it alone" would have on their self esteem and ability later on to talk about and deal with their feelings in a healthy way.

    Answer by Iskkra at 5:45 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • I wouldn't leave my two years old alone, period. I would give him strategies to calm down like I have always done. My son is 3 and a half and he can calm himself very effectively just by following the conditioning we did earlier. We tell him "Calm down, you are okay, breath. It's okay to be upset but it will pass soon, let's breath together and count to 10." It works like a charm most of the time. If everything else fails, I would ignore the tantrum but I won't ignore my child.

    Answer by bebita at 5:47 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • I doubt very seriously the person was meaning to leaving a child alone as in, locking them in a room alone. Most of you do the TIME OUT thing right.? That is alone time isn't it?

    Answer by louise2 at 6:01 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • I always wonder if these doctors that advise things like this have kids. And if so, how well adjusted they are. My 11 year old doesn't know how to deal with things he's feeling, how is a 2 year old going to? Hell, there are adults that don't know how to deal with some feelings they have. I'm all for letting a child finish with their tantrum, but you don't have to walk away. I'm hoping that this doctor left out how maybe some kind of talk with the child after he/she has calmed down could help in the future.

    Answer by Raine2001 at 6:02 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • I don't know about others but my kids played alone as 2 y/o's and it didn't harm them lol, you act as if he is saying lock the child away, they are just saying DONT REACT TO ATTENTION SEEKING BEHAVIOR This is one of those common sense if you encourage the bad behavior it will continue, by reacting you are encouraging. The first thing we all tell moms to do when their child says a bad word is IGNORE IT don't react well its the same thing.

    When my daughter was 2 she tried out the throw yourself on the floor type of tantrum, I looked at her and said when you calm down i will listen to you and i walked to the next room. a week later she stopped and never tried it again, i was consistent, and i didn't encourage it.



    Answer by Anonymous at 6:15 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • You all are missing the point of my statement, I think (except for Raine2001). The doctor said, not to react in ANY way - no calming words, no "We'll talk about this when you are calm", etc. - Just "I'll leave you alone to deal with your feelings". My point wasn't the actual act of "leaving them alone" - I didn't think that they actually meant locking them away or anything - my point was the fact that, by telling them to deal with their emotions alone, you are in a way telling them that you don't care about their feelings, and that they should hide them from you (and consequently, everyone else for the rest of their lives). That's my point.

    Answer by Iskkra at 6:28 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • we send them to their rooms - and say when you can calm down and be nice you may come out. if they come out we ask - are you ready to be nice? if no then its back to their rooms.

    when they're ready to come out and be nice they have to come say sorry, and give an apology hug.


    Answer by hypermamaz at 6:42 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • You demonstrate how to deal with them (emotions) every day, and they learn by watching you. Don't feed the tantrums and they'll quit seeing them as a viable option. The more drama you give them the bigger the tantrums will get. When the tantrum doesn't get a response they'll try other ways to get your attention. Feed the good ones, ignore the bad ones, punish when necessary, after they've calmed down, if the tantrum included breaking things or hitting someone. If they only thing they hit is the floor, don't even acknowledge it.

    You want to see the thought process behind the tantrum, watch this:


    Answer by NotPanicking at 6:45 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

  • I think you have to do a combination of both, depending on the situation. Children that age have a difficult time controlling their emotions and sometimes need help dealing with them or help calming down. They also need us to teach them how to cope with their frustration, which you can't do if you're ignoring them. But, there are definitely times that I have ignored tantrums. It depends on why they're having the tantrum I guess and whether efforts to help them have failed.

    Answer by EmilyandIsaac at 6:54 PM on Dec. 6, 2009

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