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What age can you start using "time out"?

(23 Posts)
TarynM Sun 24-Jul-11 21:43:11

My DD is almost 18 months, she is not a bad kid at all but I do find my DH and I are constantly saying NO. She loves to pull the DVDs off the bookshelf, throw toys, touch everything we tell her not to etc etc, basically all the things little ones tend to like doing. She knows she shouldn't do it as just before she does it she looks cheekily at us waiting for a response. We don't smile or laugh when we say NO but she still thinks its a game.
From what age does "time out" tend to work. I don't want to start shouting at her but when talking assertively doesn't work I have noticed the volume tends to creep up.

MogTheForgetfulCat Sun 24-Jul-11 22:02:12

I think she is too young for time out - would think that the concept is beyond her and that the likely struggle to get her to stay on the step (or whatever) would be way out of proportion to the act that led you to putting her in time out in the first place.

I have found ignoring, distracting and encouraging them to co-operate more effective at this age (actually, all ages) - e.g. if she pulls the DVDs down, say calmly "Don't do that, DD, it makes a mess" then get down and calmly put them back, encouraging her to help. Throwing toys - just ignore, or calmly put them back where they belong, telling her not to throw them - and again, encouraging her to help.

"No" is still a reaction to a little one, they can't really differentiate between what we might see as 'good' or 'bad' attention.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Mon 25-Jul-11 08:26:23

what mog said.

She's far too young to have impulse control or understand why you are punishing her.

I don't like time out but even if i did i really thing 18m is too young. Mog's advice is spot on.

BikeRunSki Mon 25-Jul-11 08:38:50

DS started "going to the corridor" when he was 1, and gets a minute for every year of his age. Then big cuddles when he comes out. Explanation before and after too.

sootytotherescue Mon 25-Jul-11 09:02:07

DD2 is 14mo and is just like ops dd, but she also hits, bites and pulls her sisters hair. I'm pleased its not just us who finds 'no' doesnt work. She gets a short time out on our knee when she hurts someone, but only 30 seconds, she really doesn't like it.

WhoseGotMyEyebrows Mon 25-Jul-11 09:51:43

We started it at about 2 and 3 quarters. I wanted to make sure they completely understood why it was happening first.

Octaviapink Mon 25-Jul-11 10:12:29

DD has just started having timeouts for bashing/poking/biting/hitting/kicking her 8mo brother. She gets put in another room by herself and knows exactly why it's happening. She's 2.2, though. A few months ago she definitely wouldn't have understood. I only use it for that - anything else is pretty much just NO! plus distraction.

JarethTheGoblinKing Mon 25-Jul-11 10:14:04


FruitSaladIsNotPudding Mon 25-Jul-11 13:26:11

My friend did time out with her 16mo the other day while I was there, and it was hideous. She didn't have a clue what was happening and got so upset. So I think 18mo is too young to be honest.

Meeshamie Mon 25-Jul-11 14:16:02

I heard once that it doesn't tend to work in a child under 3. I know it's a bit of a hassle but could you clear away the stuff you don't want her to pull down (DVDs etc) so there is nothing for her to pull down? This phase won't last forever and she will get to an age when she won't be into everything and you can have stuff on your shelves which doesn't get touched. She's basically exploring so in some sense you have to grin and bear it. But with the stuff you really don't want her to do she'll get it eventually - your simple NOs will probably be enough.

IMHO the more a child hears the word NO the more they will say it back to you and from an earlier age. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old - My 1 year old said NO a lot earlier because I was already saying it a lot to my 3 yo - plus when she is a bit naughty (like throwing food) I have to say NO so my toddler knows it's one rule for all - tricky balance as I'd rather ignore that kind of thing!

Gemtubbs Mon 25-Jul-11 14:29:39

My ds used to pull all the dvds out of the cupboard at around this age. 1 day, we made him sit and put every single 1 back. He got quite upset at the time, but he didn't think that making a mess with the dvds was such a fun game any more after that. Can't say that this will work in every case though, and I can't even say if it was "the right thing to do". But it worked for us.

TarynM Wed 27-Jul-11 20:39:50

Thanks for your responses, I think holding off on time out for a bit is a good idea and try ignore some of the stuff and say no less often so she doesn't start thinking everything is a game. Gemtubbs, I love what you did, I am not sure either if it is right or wrong but if necessary we may give it a go.

Firawla Wed 27-Jul-11 21:40:39

i think about 2.5 onwards it can work, minimum atleast 2 yrs old? for an 18 months i really wouldnt. distraction, moving stuff out their way etc works better for that young age imo. i get why you would wana put them in time out though, my ds2 19 months is starting this kind of thing and it can get quite annoying that they dont listen to "no" but i think time out will just create unnecessary conflict if they dont even grasp it properly, so just making both of you miserable in the end

ajaybaines Wed 27-Jul-11 21:44:03

DD1 got the occasional time out from around 2 and a half.

neolara Wed 27-Jul-11 21:45:14

I wouldn't do it for a child under 2, better at 2.5 years. A lot depends on language development and how well they understand what you tell them. At 18 months, they would almost certainly have absolutely no idea what you were talking to them about and as others have said, their impulse control and understanding of consequences is absolutely rubbish so time out would be pretty pointless. They are very unlikely to learn anything from the experience. I recently saw a mum timing out a 20 month old. I'm pretty sure the baby didn't have a clue what was going on. Wasn't nice.

LoopyLoopsTootyFroots Wed 27-Jul-11 21:46:41

I do it with DD (2.1) and it works brilliantly.

celadon Wed 27-Jul-11 21:58:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AngelDog Wed 27-Jul-11 23:23:29

Try showing her what she can do. e.g. we showed DS how to touch books without pulling them off the shelves. After lots of repetition of 'you can touch the books but leave them on the shelf please', he generally leaves those things alone (or quickly stops pulling them out when reminded).

Offering alternatives is good too. If he's throwing a toy car for example, I say 'cars are for pushing, balls are for throwing' and then give him a ball to throw. If I don't want balls to be thrown there, I'll say 'you can throw the ball on the stairs or outside' and then take him to one of those places so he can do the throwing.

Now if I suggest he throws a ball instead of another object, he starts saying, 'stairs!' or 'outside!' and forgets about the thing he was throwing in the first place. He's 18 m.o.

celadon Wed 27-Jul-11 23:25:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CosmicMouse Fri 29-Jul-11 09:40:22

I too think Time Out is inappropriate for such a young child. It's not something I agree with full stop, but it's utterly pointless in a child under the age of 3 IMO.

As PP's have said, she's exploring and experimenting. She doesn't need to be punished, she needs to be guided and taught.

As Angeldog says, close supervision and/or alternatives are much more productive.

ajaybaines Fri 29-Jul-11 09:55:48

Yes, further to what angeldog said - i went on a course once with an element of neurolinguistic programming and it's something I try to use with my DD1 so that things don't come across as telling off, but more, encouraging proper behaviour.

So instead of saying "don't be rough with your sister" I say "let's be really gentle with your sister, can you give her a really gentle, nice cuddle"

Or instead of "don't make a mess with all those bits of paper on the desk" say "the desk is lovely and tidy at the moment, let's try to keep it like that"

madmomma Sun 21-Aug-11 07:57:29

2 minutes at 2, 3 minutes at 3 etc. I strongly recommend John Gray's parenting book 'Children are from Heaven' - part of the mars & venus series. It totally sorted my head out about all kinds of issues with my fb, and I still refer to it now. It covers time out it detail.

nearlytherenow Sun 21-Aug-11 09:54:23

DS is 3.0 and we have only just started sending him for some "time to think" (I don't really like "time out", we more do it in a "have some time to think about what you did / what you are going to do" way - i.e. not really a punishment). It works well, but I don't think it would have worked even a few months ago. When he was younger we motivated him with stickers for good behaviour, i.e. if he was being difficult we'd ask him to behave / stop whatever he was doing, and after 5 minutes of behaving he'd get a sticker, then one after 10 more minutes, then every 15 minutes that he behaved for (was advised by a child psychologist friend to do this, but she said that anything over 15 minutes was too much for a little child). Although at 18 months she's probably still too young for this.

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