22 answers

Time Out Isn't Working

My son is very strong willed, and time out isn't working with him...he thinks it's a game. He doesn't get upset when we put him there; however, he gets out of the chair, lays of the floor, or runs away...us running behind to catch him and put him back in time out. It's a game to him, and he thinks it's fun and funny. Spankings don't seem to phase him either...of course they don't hurt when you have on a diaper. Spanking hurts his feelings more than anything. We don't know what to do. I've read all the books and we are still in limbo. He needs to learn to mind momma and daddy...God gave him to us to take care of and we are responsible for him and know what is best for him. Has anyone been through anything similar? He just turned 2 in April and is very smart and head strong.

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I would recommend the "Parenting with Love and Logic" series. I wish I would have known about it when I had little bitty's.

You need to be persistent with the time out. When he leaves his room, pick him up and put him back on the bed (or in the room). He can cry, scream, etc all he wants. He should not be allowed out of the room until he has been quiet for 2 minutes (1 minute per year of age) and the timer doesn't start until he is quiet. I know this is hard but eventually it will work. My sister has a PhD in psychology and told me how to do this. It took 2 weeks to break my daughter's tantrums. You have to be precise and not let up even once or you will undo all you've started. Hang in there, you'll make it! My daugher was 6 when I used this with her. Very smart and headstrong...but I'm smarter :) Spanking just becomes frustrating for you and possible abusive. Ck out LoveandLogic.com for great parenting ideas.

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Not sure if you've read LOve and Logic, but this is the most helpful book I ever read. I'd just put him in his room so he knows he's not getting any attention. Everything is also done w/a happy face and a 'smile' in your voice letting him know that he's not 'sucking you in' and you have it under control. As hard as it is sometimes, don't get on his level...he's 2 after all. He'll do better once he understands that good behavior is the only way he will get the attention he wants and that he can't 'rattle' you...after all, that's the most fun thing for a 2 year old! :) Good Luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful

Both of mine also treated it like a game at first, but they eventually got it. Be patient and he will learn what timeout means. Timeout is not a punishment it is a way of teaching discipline. It teaches them to calm down when they are upset or angry.

I like to think that watching supernanny has helped me. LOL My daughter is 27 months and we have been using the time out since she was 18 months old. I do it the way that supernanny does it and it has worked. First, give the child a warning, if they do that again they will go to time out...After the warning is given if they screw up again tell them that they are going to time out. Use the same place in your house everytime for time out. When you place them in time out, get on their level and tell them why they are there and that they can get up when the timer rings. (set timer a minute per age)If they get up before timer rings, you dont say anything to them, all you do is take them and put them back in time out. Dont pick them up, walk them to time out. If they are screaming while in time out dont respond....if they are rolling around on the floor, as long as they are still in the time out area, then dont respond. Never talk to them until the timer rings. After timer rings, tell them to say sorry and give you a hug..I know its alot but it has worked for my daughter and my 5 yr old. Good Luck! I have also bought the supernanny book, and have found some great ideas.

You need to be persistent with the time out. When he leaves his room, pick him up and put him back on the bed (or in the room). He can cry, scream, etc all he wants. He should not be allowed out of the room until he has been quiet for 2 minutes (1 minute per year of age) and the timer doesn't start until he is quiet. I know this is hard but eventually it will work. My sister has a PhD in psychology and told me how to do this. It took 2 weeks to break my daughter's tantrums. You have to be precise and not let up even once or you will undo all you've started. Hang in there, you'll make it! My daugher was 6 when I used this with her. Very smart and headstrong...but I'm smarter :) Spanking just becomes frustrating for you and possible abusive. Ck out LoveandLogic.com for great parenting ideas.

strap him in a high chair with the connection behind him. and then set him in the corner facing the corner. put a timer on for two minutes; one minute per age and then release him. good luck.

Can you say more about what the time outs are for?

We used a little booklet called "Under Loving Command" by Al & Pat Fabrizio when our strong-willed girls were little. It mainly reminded us of our responsibility to be very consistent in obeying God ourselves as we taught the girls they had to obey us. It is available online at www.ntmu.net/underlovingcomand.htm.

Good books by James Dobson:
The Strong Willed Child
Bringing Up Boys
Spank on the thigh until he cries. Then stay with him a few moments, explain you cannot do that and if he runs away or does it again repeat this proceedure until he gets it. It may take time but it is worth it. You are the boss and it is because we love them that we want them to obey.
Please don't start the counting to three. If he is running out to the street and you yell stop, counting to three and he is run over. See? Also they learn to manipulate with counting and wait just to see how far and how long it will take you to count to three.
Be strong, loving and ask God for strength, because it will try your patience sometimes, but it is worth it.

I was appalled at some of the responses you received. I do not believe in spanking and it is not effective with many children who are extremely strong-willed. There are so many other things to try. I wish you had been more detailed about what his behaviors are that warrant a consequence. I have a 22 month old who is into everything, has a temper, and doesn't like the word no, but I do control him without hitting him. I would never allow my children to misbehave, but I do realize they are children and they are going to be very trying at times. This is the way they learn their boundries and what is acceptable and not. They , also, watch how you handle things and model their behavior after yours, so be very careful how you react to the things they do. I think a young two year old is too young to understand what a timeout is for and I don't think they get much learning out of it and that is what it is for. I think avoiding situations that that create unacceptable behavior is important. I have seen moms who take their young children to the grocery store at 6 in the evening after they have had a long day and they are hungry and they wonder why their children are crying and misbehaving. I've seen parents who expect their 3 year old to sit through a 2 hour dinner with friends and not act up. I'm not saying this applies to you, but it does to some. Also, pick your battles. My little one splashes in the tub and sometimes it is annoying having to clean up the floor, but he is only doing it because it's fun, not to hurt me, so I let him. It doesn't take very long to clean it up and he won't do it forever. I once heard a mom say,"Ask yourself if the child's behavior will be a problem when he is 30. If so, stop it, if not and it hurts no one then don't worry too much about it." I ask myself this a lot with 2 boys. My 22 month old probably won't be splashing around in the tub at 30. Distraction is great for little ones. My son loves to go outside, build block towers, and play trains, so if he is doing something or is about to do something that I find unacceptable, I just pick him up and engage him in one of his favorite activities. He soon forgets about whatever it was he was doing. Sorry, I have written a lot, but I just wanted you to have other options rather than "hitting until he cries" like another mom wrote. You only want what is best for your son and there are lots of good books out there to help you through this difficult stage. If you don't have Love and Logic, get it. It is geared more for children a little older, but it will prepare you for the years to come. Just what until he can argue with you! Lots of luck to you!!

Definitely try Love and Logic. I'm looking to attend a parenting class for it, but the book was very helpful. It's easy to implement, and it really is loving and logical. You can call the love and logic people and request a list of teachers in your area. Good luck!

I think you are going to have to be stricter about him abiding by your time out rules. It will take a few days of you OVER enforcing it to make it sink in. Put him where you want and then keep him there by just quietly going and getting him each time he escapes. It totally sucks the first few times you do this because he will push the boundaries and you may take him back there 50 times, but just think about it being a investment for YOUR future! It does work. One of my boys was like that and although a challenge it works!

I would advise to continue with time-out. My daugheter runs from time-out sometimes as well and tries to play it off as a joke. However, I don't let it get to me and she eventually gets it. She is constantly testing me. I give her a warning first, "If you continue do do this behavior, then mommy will put you in time-out". If she continues to do the beahvior, I put her in time out. I state that she is in time out for 2 minutes for "whatever it is" and leave. That is the very last word that I utter through the entire process. I put the timer on for two minutes. If she is in one of those moods where she tries to get out. I stand near her with my back turned towards her. If she gets out, I place her back without saying one word. Sometimes it takes a few times and finally she stays there for the entire two minutes. When she completes her time, I go over and explain why she was in time-out, the tell her to say "sorry". If she says, sorry she gets out of time-out. It always works when I do it this way. My husband tried it his own way, talked througout and told me that she thought it was a game. He tried it my way the other day and she now sits in it for him as well. Time-out is not easy and sometimes it takes work b/c they will try to test your endurance. Keep strong; he will get it. Good luck!!

I too had a strong willed son, (he is ten in June...what do i look out for next?!!)
He did not like to be spanked, he would hit back, time outs were a joke to him as well...but I learned by watching Nanny 911 that I was doing the time out wrong.
Is your time out spot the same every time?
stop talking, any attention is good attention at this age, you stop communicating, he will wonder why.
sit with your back to him (two minutes is not that long for you to sit it out and ponder the affairs of this world is it) then he will have no where to go.
give him his own timer...his own timer lets him know he is in trouble, you mean business.
when the timer goes off, tell him that what he did was naughty, he needs to apologize to you and give hugs. then it is over.
I also found that counting helped..."you have til number three to do what I told you to do, or you have a time out"
You need a "mean mommy" voice, he will be able to tell you are serious about the matter by that voice.
And last but not least, he is a baby, choose your battles...
is it really worth it to try to make him perfect all the time?
Hope I helped, it does get easier, that strong will turns into a strong sense of right and wrong, and you will be so proud of him!

Hi. I'm not sure if you have seen Super Nanny before when she has tackled the same problem with children throwing a fit during the time outs or running away. The key to a time out is to ignore and not react in speech or actions. With the fact that you are saying that not even physical punishment is not working, I would think that maybe you should examine your attitude during discipline. Are you calm? Are you in control, confident? You need to reinforce your discipline with calmness. Put him back in time out for how ever long it takes for him to give up. Yes that means chasing him and carrying him back to the time out spot. You'll be tired but in control and he realize it too when you've calmly never given up. It's best that you settle this now that you are to be taken serious and demand to respect while he is young and not wait until he's 16 when it will be almost impossible to do anything about.
Best Regards,
C.

My son reacted the same way until he was about 3 and really understood that sitting there is a consequence. I set up the playpen and put him in there until he could get out and put him in separate room where I could keep and eye on him but he couldn't see me. This was pretty effective for a while. I'm still on the road to discovering how to effectively discipline my very strong willed boy and they go through stages. I took a more supernanny approach when he got a little older and it seemed to be the most effective. Best of luck!

Continue with the time-outs. If he is still in his crib, put him there for 2 minutes. When you put him in his crib, tell him why (even thought he may be crying and not really listening). Keep it simple as in "no hitting." When you get him out, simply remind him why he was there "no hitting, that hurts." My very smart, headstrong daughter is similar to how you describe your son. Now that she is 3, I use two strategies. If it is a minor disobedience, she sits in timeout and I turn on the kitchen timer. She knows to sit until it beeps or I start it over. If it is more serious she goes to her room for 3 minutes (or until she calms down). I close the door and put on of those knobs on it that prevents that child from opening the door. She is in time-out less often now, and it is more effective, too. Good luck!

We are going through the EXACT same thing with our 2 1/2 yr old son. Only ours screams at the top of his lungs and throws HUGE fits!! I just started reading "The Strong Willed Child" by Dr. James Dobson and I have really liked it so far. When I told the pediatrician I was reading it he told me he swears by the book and it's the only one hr commends to parents. I wish I had more words of wisdom but since we are in the midst of this ourselves I don't. Best of luck!!

You got me thinking when you said hurting his feelings. What I've also done sometimes is to put on a dramatic sad face when my son disobeys. Then, he comes to give me a hug. I tell him when he disobeys, it makes me sad. And I tell him to apologize.

Also, I agree with the previous poster about Supernanny. Watch a few of her shows and she will show you how she does time out. No talking to the kid, just quietly and calmly put them on timeout. One show, the kid got out of time out over 50 times. She just had the father put the kid back in time out quietly and calmly.

I had one child that I could sit in the chair, and another that wouldn't , so ended up having to give a swat, and tell them what they justs did wasn't acceptable behavior. I just quit trying to put that one in a chair, and the swat worked. I know it didn't hurt either, but they got the idea that they were being punished and shouldn't do that behavior, so that's what we are tring to do anyway, so doesn't matter.

I would recommend the "Parenting with Love and Logic" series. I wish I would have known about it when I had little bitty's.

H.,
You have gotten some good advise about changing up the time out issues which I had to learn too and mostly works with my son. My 3.5 year old is very strong willed. The other thing that worked for me is just using logical consequences. If he is whining and being someone no one wants to be around I send him to his room until he can come out and play nice. If he is acting out at the park (he used to hit other kids or throw wood chips) he got 1 warning and if he did it again we went home. It only took a couple of times for him to have to leave a place he was enjoying before he realized that I was serious and it is very rare that I have to do anything but the 1 warning anymore. I also praise him when we go somewhere and he behaved and point out things he is doing well throughout the day. It has made a huge difference in his behavior.

take something away that he loves. a toy, a bear whatever. and let him know why you're taking it away and when he can get it back. my son loves his toy boat and i took that away today b/c he kept turning off the t.v. he stopped. but don't forget to praise him also. don't just get on to him all the time. i've noticed that my son acts better when i praise him.

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