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How young is too young for timeouts?

Posted by on Dec. 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM
  • 7 Replies

My DD is 16 months old.  For months now, she has been hitting me.  She only hits me (Mom), and not DH.  That said, I am still the preferred parent.  Maybe that's why she only hits me?

Last night, she was getting into something, and DH said no.  He was right behind her, I was across the other side of the room.  She stopped what she was doing, but walked around him and came running to me to smack me.  Her arm was pulled back over her head as she ran towards me.

I have tried ignoring, stern voice, play crying saying that hurts, saying no (a million times), and nothing is working.  The only thing I haven't tried is a timeout.  Any advice on how to do it at this age? 

by on Dec. 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM
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by Silver Member on Dec. 4, 2014 at 10:32 AM

At 16 months my son would have totally understood a time out, but at that same age my daughter would have no clue a time out meant she did something wrong. 

It's worth a try to see if it sinks in. The first time I put my son in one I told him no and that he was going in a time out. I faced a chair toward the wall and made him sit there facing the wall for a couple of minutes. He was so mortified that after that all I had to do was say I was thinking about putting him in a time out and he would stop misbehaving. 

Good luck.. the hitting stage is not fun.

by Member on Dec. 4, 2014 at 10:37 AM
My oldest I started around 18 months, but my youngest was probably 15 months. It's still a work in progress for him.

I do 30 seconds for every 6 months of age, on a chair away from everyone. (18 months = 1 minute 30 seconds; 2 years = 2 minutes).
by Bronze Member on Dec. 4, 2014 at 1:39 PM

I used time out with my ODS starting at age 2. I attempted it with my DS2, but he has behavior disorder and after a lot of research and therapy on toddler and pre-school discipline, I will not be using time out again with my DD, who is completely a typical child. Not saying that is can't be effective, it worked wonderfully with my now 7 year old. but I just don't want to risk it causing problems.

Time out is essentially emotional isolation, if you employ the technique correctly, you will have to put her in time out, and wait for her to be still and quiet until she can leave the time out spot. You are showing the child, when you feel angryor embarrassed or frustrated that Daddy corrected you, you are going to end up alone, by yourself in the corner to sit angry or even ashamed. Especially at such a young age, imo, it's a form conditional love, mommy will ONLY comfort you when you are quiet and calm. I think a more effective way is to stop the behavior with restraint, tell her you need to keep her and you safe, and teach her how to cope with her anger and frustration. 

by Bronze Member on Dec. 4, 2014 at 1:44 PM
I would never use time out.

The goal of parenting is to TEACH time out teaches nothing.

If she's hitting she's having issues with emotional and impulse control. Focus on teaching her techniques and giving her alternatives. Nothing you use will work right away. You didn't expect her to walk until her muscles were developed, so don't expect behavioural control until her brain is more developed.

For time out to work the child needs to be able to cognitively think of the consequence before pursuing the action. That doesn't start until around 4, but doesn't finish developing until adulthood. Giving techniques that deal with the issue behind the behaviour is a far better solution. Having emotional and impulse control is important in all aspects of life. It's something that needs to be taught, it's not something that can be taught through punishment.
by on Dec. 4, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Definitely a lot to think about-thanks for posting, ladies!  I know a lot of it is frustration.  She is smart, but can't express herself. 

Maybe it's karma-I remember seeing my niece hit my sister, and thinking "No child of MINE will hit".  Yeah, right.  It's funny how becoming a parent can make you eat crow over and over. 

by on Dec. 4, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Take her hand, say "No hitting" , and put her into a sort of modified time out, in a very small enclosed area (baby gated area) for a minute or two. Then take her out and then make her hand touch your nicely and say "Nice touches" and then praise her like heck for giving yo unice touches. Make sure she gets NO attention, even negative, for hitting, that's why you put her into a little fenced area. Then, give her lots of attention for the right kind of touching. She'll eventually learn that hitting gains her nothing but solitude. But she's also at an age that she still needs to be taught what TO do, not just what she shouldn't be doing, and that's why you do nice touches with lots of praise. Also, if you see her coming at you and you know she will hit, try to walk away before she gets to you. It's better to avoid it than to deal with it once it happens at that age.  So yes, time out is possible at that age, but you can't leave out the teaching of the appropriate behavior as well.

by Bronze Member on Dec. 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM
I started around 18 months. I use it as a last resort after "no" and redirection. I got her a nice little chair and a little table with books. I call it taking a rest since she is so active.
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