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What should I do when my almost 3-year-old daughter refuses to do a time out?

What should I do when my almost 3-year-old refuses to do a time out? I've tried calmly explaining to her that we will do nothing else until she completes her 2 minutes, but she just screams and cries hysterically, while trying to get away from her time out spot. I repeatedly put her back in time out when she does this, but she gets so worked up, that I don't know what else to do. Nothing seems to work. How do I get her to do a time out without a struggle?

Submitted by Jaime_8373

Time-out is such an effective form of behavior management partly because it simply is no fun for a child to be in it, so it is quite understandable that a young child will be not be a happy camper when put there. And we have to remember that while most adults have developed coping skills that allow them to handle disappointment without yelling and screaming (the exceptions, of course, being certain professional athletes or coaches), young children generally have not. 

 

It is important that children know in advance what behaviors will get them a time-out – so it will not be a surprise when they are told to go, and as such some tantrums may be avoided- as well as what the rules are about staying in time-out.  If a child resists going to time-out, parents can use gentle physical guidance to get the child to the time-out chair.  When a child yells and screams during a time-out, a parent should ignore the tantrum, so the child will not be getting any attention for the behavior.  If the child gets out of the chair, he should be escorted back to the chair and the timer should be restarted.  If a young child continues to get out of the chair, a parent can gently hold the child’s shoulders to keep him in the chair, while also turning her head so that she is not looking at the child and giving him her attention.  Children should also be told in advance that if things get to this step there will be an additional consequence, such as not being able to play with a favorite toy for the rest of the afternoon. Additionally, it is important that when a parent puts a child in time-out that she not give in to tantrums, but rather continues to enforce the punishment.  While initially this may unfortunately result in a child’s having even bigger tantrums as he tries harder and harder to get you to give in – it is what we psychologists call an “extinction burst”, because we like to come up with really neat names for things –eventually, if a parent sticks with all of this, the child will soon learn that tantrums don’t work, nor does getting out of the chair. Parents should also set the rule that in order to leave the chair the child needs to be calm and quiet.  And remember, after a time-out the child needs to “fix” whatever got him there in the first place, so, for example, he would have to follow the command that he initially defied or apologize for any misbehavior that led to the time-out.

 

Of course, the best way to decrease tantrums is to try to decrease the need for time-out in the first place, so parents want to try and catch a child acting good as often as possible and praise and reinforce those behaviors, so as to increase the frequency of these behaviors (and thus decrease the likelihood of undesired ones).

 

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When I put my 2 year old in time out, in a chair, on the stairs or even in her room, she bangs her head. Not sure what to do with that.
Submitted by MariaK
My 3 yr old is hard-headed. We give her plenty of choices and are attentive to her sleep/hunger needs. Even so, she lands herself in trouble most days. Time-outs didn't work until we changed our strategy. If she doesn't go willingly, we physically walk her there. If she is yelling, we close her door until she has calmed down. The official time doesn't start until she is calm. If she gets out of time-out, it starts over again. At the end, when she is calm, she is always ready to talk with us.
Submitted by bina2pt5
Well, she sounds like a strong willed little girl from what you are describing. I have 3 strong willed boys and while I found timeout is the best route for those kind of kids. However, I have also found that giving them a choice also is good for them because strong willed kids need to feel like they are in control when in actuality the parent is still in control. So, for example..."You can put your toys away now like I asked or you can have a timeout for not listening and then clean up your toys." Either way they are going to have to do what you need them to do but with my kids they are less likely to throw a fit if they feel like they have a choice. I also sometimes just send them to their bed if they become unreasonable and start throwing a tantrum. After they have calmed down I deal with whatever the issue was cause when they are yelling, kicking, screaming you can not rationalize with them.
Submitted by bontragerfam
It is important to remember that toddlers are not really equipped to deal with lots of intellectual talk. the book 1-2-3 Magic effectively explains all the hows and whys of "time out". So many people just know that time out is better than spanking and try to implement it without really understanding it. I really recommend reading the book, which also explains how time outs transition into other forms of discipline as the child gets older. Also, if you are using a room as a time-out place, rather than just a chair, they don't get out as frequently, so there is little re-doing, which is less frustrating. I have gently held him in a time out chair when we were out. Pulling over to the side of the road can also be an effective time-out while driving. Consistency is important. I agree with meganstanish that it is totally worth the pain. It, too, am frequently complimented on my son's behavior. Good luck!
Submitted by sspgh
It is important to remember that toddlers are not really equipped to deal with lots of intellectual talk. the book 1-2-3 Magic effectively explains all the hows and whys of "time out". So many people just know that time out is better than spanking and try to implement it without really understanding it. I really recommend reading the book, which also explains how time outs transition into other forms of discipline as the child gets older. Also, if you are using a room as a time-out place, rather than just a chair, they don't get out as frequently, so there is little re-doing, which is less frustrating. I have gently held him in a time out chair when we were out. Pulling over to the side of the road can also be an effective time-out while driving. Consistency is important. I agree with meganstanish that it is totally worth the pain. It, too, am frequently complimented on my son's behavior. Good luck!
Submitted by sspgh
i'm a mother of 7. forget the discipline at this point 'cause yr child is tired. put your child to sleep. when she/he wakes up then u talk about the tantrum and explain that is not appropriate behavior and if it happens again s/he will go into time-out or go to take a nap. believe me the tantrums will stop. u should also ask if your child is hungry? i am surprised at how often children misbehave 'cause they r hungry. if do, teach them to tell u they r hungry instead of having a temper tantrum.
Submitted by sher-tygranger
I feel your pain; I have two stubborn children who went through the same thing! My son, the older of the two, was particularly reticent to do time-outs. He would follow me around, becoming increasingly overwrought, screaming, "I'm sorry!!" or "I won't sit still!" Tough as it was, I would just silently put him back, over and over. Once it took 90 minutes. He eventually got it. My daughter, too. The best part? I'm complimented often on how well my children behave. Keep it up, and good luck to you!
Submitted by megstanish