Time out is the most commonly practiced form of disciplining young children. Our doctor recommends starting it at 18 months; I’ve read that is the youngest you should start it, and some sources say don’t even bother until they are 2 or 3 because they won’t be able to logically connect the misbehavior with the time out until then.
We started time out with Lexi at 16 months. Not because she is a bad child (she’s not), but because she was fond of screaming at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason at least 20 times a day. When ignoring her didn’t work, and giving into her wasn’t an option, we resorted to time out.
Six weeks later we no longer have the random screaming. Score one for time outs.
Disciplining Lexi is quite entertaining. I never know how much she understands or what she’s retaining from these time outs. I often hear her passing the 1 minute punishment babbling to herself or “counting” the stairs. When the minute is up, I go to her, get down on her level, make her look me in the eye, and calmly explain why she was in time out in about two sentences. She looks at me the whole time, but I can tell she is thinking about what toy she’s going to play with when I let her go. One time I told her not to do such-and-such again. She looked at me with big blue eyes and serious face and pointed to her palm, which is the sign for again. Another time I told her not to do such-and-such anymore. With the same stern face she did the sign for more. I guess I can be encouraged that she is listening, even if she isn’t processing the main idea of our talks.
For the most part, I think time out has to be done 257 times per infraction before she will “get it” at this age. It took six weeks to figure out screaming = punishment… We’ve been working on not touching the dishwasher or TV for…at least 3 weeks. It is slow going at this age because toddlers have short little memories and they are incredibly impulsive (self-control has to be learned). But I know consistency is key. And at least she makes me smile through it.