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At what age did you start using time outs as a punishment?

My son is only 23 months old and I don't feel he's old enough to understand, however the advice I'm getting is to put him in time out or spank him for his negative behavior. What clinical advice/books did you come across that showed evidence of what age it's appropriate for?

Thanks so much for your help!

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Asked by Julians_Momma at 8:30 AM on Apr. 26, 2010 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 7 (157 Credits)
Answers (21)
  • Experts advise time outs starting at age 2 and lasting for 1 min per yr they are old. So a 2 yr old gets 2 min, a 3 yr old 3 min and so on with a max time out of 5 min after the child is over 5 years old.

    I started time outs at 20 months old. I started with 1.5 min since my DD was a little young for time outs. I had a hard time getting her to stay in a time out chair, so I put her in the pack and play until she understood time outs better.

    Answer by ThrivingMom at 8:34 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • Oh, and to answer your question about books. I have a Bachelor's of Science in Sociology and used to be a CPS case worker. I can't remember a particular author to point you at but starting at age 2 and the 1 min per yr old rule is pretty standard across the board. That's what they taught us in college and in the state CPS training.

    Answer by ThrivingMom at 8:35 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • around 2 years old

    Answer by VeronicaLee at 8:38 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • my neice goes to time out all the time and she stays there too if she does something bad you tell her to go to time out she goes and sits in the corner she is only 18 months and has been doing time out since she was like 13 months

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:06 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • Last week I as babysitting an 11 month old that is beginning to stand.I put him at the piano walker that we have and my 14 month old daughter became jealous, came over and took his hand off of it and starting screaming at him. First, I just picked the 11 month old up and put him at another standing musical toy we have and then my sweet 14 month old comes over and does the same thing to him again. I tried to give her another toy.I tried picking her up and diverting her attention to another area.Nothing worked! She kept being mean to him and trying to take everything he was playing with away from him and screaming when she did it. So my final tactic was to pick her up and sit her on the couch where she sat for about a minute,crying, got up and played with something on her own. Later than night, I joked with her daddy about it...she got her first time out at 14,lol.

    Answer by kimberlyinberea at 10:12 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • Around 18 months with both of mine I started a time out that just involved me holding the child still on the couch, which meant that it was time away from the playing or whatever else she was into, but not time all alone. I just did it long enough to get their attention, and then got them to make eye contact with me so I could remind them what they were doing that got them there, and began working with them on actually acknowledging it (first with signing "sorry" then eventually with being able to say back to me the reason they had to stop playing). By around 2 I would have them sit by themselves on the couch for a minute or two, usually setting the timer on the microwave. But I always used it as a moment to take a pause from the emotions that were tied to misbehaving, so they could calm down so we could talk calmly about what was wrong. For us, time out wasn't a screaming prison.

    Answer by EmilySusan at 10:36 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • (cont'd) -- if they were screaming, I would sit with them and help them calm down until they stopped... On the rare occasion that we had a total meltdown/tantrum, I would usually walk away until they calmed down and start the time-out/chat after that.

    Answer by EmilySusan at 10:38 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • We started around 18 months with our 2 oldest (little guy is only 4 months). At that age is was mostly a way to take them away from the situation and tell them what they were doing wrong. Around age 2 is when we started putting them in time out and actually timed them.

    I don't have a book or any source that said at what age to do this. For us, it is simply the prefered method to take them away from a situation when necessary.

    Answer by mupt02 at 10:52 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • I don't read parenting books. I go on my gut about my kids. I started ~15 months. Every child/parent team is different and there is no "right" way to raise a kid. (of course there are wrong ways)

    Answer by KatieP. at 11:05 AM on Apr. 26, 2010

  • We started our oldest on time-outs at 18 months. But I felt like she was old enough to undertand why she was sitting and not playing anymore. And it has always worked for us. One time-out and she is good at least until the next day.

    Answer by Faye-Tula at 12:36 PM on Apr. 26, 2010

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