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Time out/naughty step at 18 months?

(40 Posts)
SpanielFace Sun 23-Feb-14 08:34:16

DS is a lovely but strong-willed little boy of 18 months. So far my discipline strategy has been along the lines of saying "no, don't hit the tv/ chase the cat/ throw your toys", if he continues then remove from the situation and/or distract. But I don't feel it's working - I think he thinks it's some sort of game, where the aim is to do it faster before I grab him, and then when I do remove him, he's started throwing a tantrum. He's worse when tired, or when he has an audience to play to (eg at grandparent's house).

I'm considering starting some sort of "time out", but not sure how to implement this when he's still so young. His language is still pretty basic - he understands more than he says, and has about 20 words. How do you explain to such a young child why they are being put in time out? And how on earth do you make them stay there? I don't want to physically make him, but I can't see what else would work!

Anyone have any other tips? He's getting bigger/faster every day!

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 08:40:11

18 months is too young for the naughty step in my opinion. I would suggest being calm and consistent. If he hits the TV just keep saying no and removing him. Take him into another room if necessary. If he's chasing the cat say no and sit down with him and try to engage his interest in a toy or a book etc. While he is so little it is just about stopping the behaviour, as he gets older you can begin to work on why he needs to stop it and any consequences if he doesn't.

Goldmandra Sun 23-Feb-14 09:28:13

You'll just end up with an additional battle on your hands because he won't stay where you want him to be.

Keep doing what you're doing. It will work if you're consistent in your approach and wait calmly for end of each tantrum.

RonaldMcDonald Sun 23-Feb-14 09:31:56


RiojaHaze Sun 23-Feb-14 09:35:52

We use the time out step for older DS and when you tell younger DS "no!" he just says "step?" And goes and sits on it! So not really feeling the punishment part of it yet!

AHardDaysWrite Sun 23-Feb-14 09:37:05

I think y

AHardDaysWrite Sun 23-Feb-14 09:37:38

I think you've got another year or so before he will really understand the concept, sorry.

SpanielFace Sun 23-Feb-14 09:50:11

Vestandknickers, thanks, that's basically what I'm doing. Reassuring to know that it's what other people so too - I had a horrible day with him yesterday at inlaws, with him constantly trying to grab things in their not-very-childproof house and laughing when I told him no. I felt completely embarrassed (and a bit judged tbh). DN, the only other grandchild, is a scarily compliant, quiet girl of 2.5 and I can't help comparing between her and my little destructive whirlwind

RonaldMcDonald, can I was what is so hilarious about someone asking for advice? I hope you've got all the fucking answers. Go away and bother the AIBU board or something.

Everyone else, thanks for your thoughts. I felt he was too young, but also feel like I'm floundering! Is there anything else I should be doing, or will it work eventually?

vestandknickers Sun 23-Feb-14 09:56:02

Don't compare. You've got a lovely, active boy. Challenging but so much more fun than a placid child!! (That's what I've always told myself anyway).

Sounds like you're doing a great job. He's also doing a great job of being one and a half though!! grin

SoftSheen Sun 23-Feb-14 09:56:25

18 months is a tricky age- old enough to be physically mobile and know what they want, but too young to reason with. I would just keep doing what you're doing- tell him a firm but calm 'no', try to distract, and when necessary, remove him from the situation. It will get better eventually.

Goldmandra Sun 23-Feb-14 10:03:33

Consistency and clear communication is the key. It's a long slow process at this age but he will get there if you stick at it.

PollyPumpkins Sun 23-Feb-14 10:07:22

Naughty step is too far advanced for an 18 month old as their cognitive reasoning skills are not developed. I know it really hard especially if you are sleep deprived but consistent measured responses will eventually become more effective. Good luck!

SpanielFace Sun 23-Feb-14 10:09:25

Thank you. I worry sometimes that by distracting with something else (a book, a toy) I'm inadvertently rewarding the behaviour - any thoughts on that? There's not much else you can do to avoid a meltdown though, is there? I have to say, I'm looking forward to being able to reason and explain things.

I know, Vestandknickers - I keep telling myself that! He is such a lovely boy, so full of energy & joy with the world, and laughs and smiles at everything. <3 I wouldn't trade him for the world. I just wish he would slow down sometimes!

Goldmandra Sun 23-Feb-14 10:44:35

* I worry sometimes that by distracting with something else (a book, a toy) I'm inadvertently rewarding the behaviour - any thoughts on that?*

I get exactly where you're coming from. I wouldn't introduce a toy/book/treat that's new to the situation for precisely that reason. I give a clear message of "Hands off" or "No" and removal/redirection to something that was already available.

I would also be very careful to make sure I wasn't making it an effective way to get my attention. Prevention is a lot better than cure in terms of attention so I keep in the thick of it when they are around other children, things they shouldn't touch, etc. With an 18 month old you need to be offering positive attention when they are doing what you want them to do and interact as little as possible when dealing with something unacceptable.

anothernumberone Sun 23-Feb-14 10:52:20

I used the naughty step with the older 2 from about 2.5. Tbh it is way overrated as a means of discipline. After a few weeks the girls would do their time, say a completely unconvincing sorry and head back about their business so I am not remotely convinced by it. Now we use positive reinforcement and idle threats to improve behaviour, it works for us.

Ds is approaching 2.5 and there is no way I could use the naughty step on him, he does not have the language skills. When I say no to him often he thinks it is funny and does not understand he is being chastised. I am still in the phase of removal and distraction and that works for him.

anothernumberone Sun 23-Feb-14 10:55:08

Your concern about rewarding bad behaviour would only happen if you felt your baby made the link between behaviour and what follows. I don't think my 2.5 year old could do that but other children probably can earlier but I think 18mthd is too soon for that for any child.

Purplelooby Sun 23-Feb-14 23:17:28

It's like you posted for me - I was almost going to post the exact same question! Sorry no advice here, DS is also 18 months and I was wondering the same. All I will say is that when he started hitting us we tried putting him in his cot and that was a disaster... he carried on hitting and refused to sleep in his cot for a few days.

Similar to you I'm sure, I praise all his good behaviour and I not to react to much to naughtiness but it's really not working. He thinks no is hilarious and does things on purpose when he finds out he isn't meant to. I actually wish he would have a meltdown when I remove toys - he just laughs and throws/bites/hits something else.

TheJumped Sun 23-Feb-14 23:29:52

If you feel like it's giving him a treat to distract him with other things, is there a chance that he plays up for attention? Especially if you're at in-laws and you're busy chatting and he's playing up to get attention. My 2yo DS definitely does this. I don't like naughty step techniques anyway, prefer 'natural consequences' but I know it can be hard. In general though giving him attention before he starts kicking off is key, so that negative attention - frowning and so on - isn't an improvement on no attention at all. I'm not insinuating you ignore him, btw, just that it might help! Also, as the past 18 months will have taught you, stages pass by so quickly and although you may feel that you're repeating yourself blind and being ineffective, you are showing him that you are constant and have very clear boundaries. He will comply then most of the time, which is all you can hope for. Right now he doesn't really know where the boundaries lie. Actually this is especially true in a non-home environment where it's less clear what is and what isn't allowed.

And be kinder to yourself - I doubt the grandparents are judging you really smile

Islandangel Sun 23-Feb-14 23:31:00

distract him before you get to a point where he needs a time out?

MamaPingu Sun 23-Feb-14 23:48:08

RonaldMcDonald's comment is a clear example of people who completely ruin mumsnet.

That and those who say "get a grip" hmm

OP don't let idiots put you off asking what you need to know. I'm glad others have been helpful smile

SpanielFace Mon 24-Feb-14 07:15:20

Golmandra and TheJumped, you are probably right - he's definitely worse when I'm not giving him my full attention. It's so hard though - when he's sitting playing happily by himself, those are the times I'll try to get on with other things. It's so hard getting anything done around the house otherwise! I'm not bothered about a spotless house, but sometimes it feels a battle to keep on top of basic stuff, or even get meals cooked. So in effect, I'm probably rewarding the bad behaviour by leaving him to play when he's happy, but giving up on whatever I'm doing, and coming and playing with him when he starts playing up. Not good. Not sure how to get around that though, and still get things done? I've tried to involve him in jobs but other than dusting, which he is very keen on (!), he is a bit young to understand it yet.

Purplelooby, I'm glad it's not just me! DS went through a hitting and biting phase, but we do seem to have got on top of that. TBH what worked with the biting was him biting me hard (on the boob confused), hard enough to draw blood through my clothes, and me yelling out with pain and frightening him. It wasn't deliberate, but he hasn't done it since! With hitting, I just keep saying "no, you don't hit", and if he does it again I put him down and walk away. He doesn't actually seem bothered, but he's definitely doing it less, so hopefully it's sinking in! Which maybe gives me hope for the other things too?

GingerRodgers Mon 24-Feb-14 07:28:38

Op we use time out and have done since dd was about 18mo (now 21mo).
She gets warnings, usually 2 then gets taken to the corner and I explain why she's there eg "mummy told you not to throw at the tv and you still did it. We do not throw at the tv. You are in time out for one minute" she then sits there until I go back to her (never leave the room) and explain again and ask for an apology and a kiss and hug. It's worked for us so far. Means we both get to calm down from the situation and she seems to 'get it' so far.

Booboostoo Mon 24-Feb-14 07:53:27

I used time out with DD since she was about 20mo for very extreme things like hitting. Before that telling her it was painful and distracting her did work but then stopped working so something had to be done because she was hitting and kicking with abandon which was quite painful. However I only did 30-40 seconds in the time out no longer. The first time it took 30 minutes to get her to stay in the spot I put her in, but the second time it worked straight away. She is now 2.9yo and I have only ever used time out a handfull of times (literally only 5-7 times?), in fact I think the last 5 months or so I have only ever had to give her the warning and she stops. The 'sorry' bit also seems to work for us, she seems genuinely upset and then genuinely relieved when forgiven but I suppose that depends on the child's character.

AGnu Mon 24-Feb-14 07:59:44

We've used time out from a similar age. We started off having a corner for DS to sit in. It took the best part of a week of "no, go back" every 10s for him to start staying there but once it twigged we'd just have to look stern & say "corner" & he'd take himself off & sit there whimpering until we said he could move! Or run around giggling maniacally! We've never timed it, just leave him there until we think he understands & then ask if he's ready to say sorry. That rarely takes more than 45s!

He's now 2.5 & will sit with his hands on his knees wherever we are & now that his language is that much better we get him to explain why he'd been put there & say sorry for it specifically. He's recently started doing a stroppy teenage style apology but is doing that less since we started sending him back until he's ready to say it nicely!

We only decided to take such a hard line with him because he's <ahem> energetic likes to run around the room/jump/throw everything constantly & DS2 was due when he was 19.5m. He's currently very into 'sharing' with DS2 which mostly involves giving him inappropriate things or putting things on his head! That's when he's not playing nicely & suddenly throwing things... There's no 'distracting before intervention is needed' when they go from 'making tea' to throwing the entire teaset at the baby in the blink of an eye! Fun times! wink

Goldmandra Mon 24-Feb-14 09:09:14

We've never timed it, just leave him there until we think he understands & then ask if he's ready to say sorry. That rarely takes more than 45s

The 'one minute per year of their age' rule is meant to be a maximum but, unfortunately, a lot of people follow Supernanny's example and use it as a target or a minimum.

If time out is used as a moment of withdrawal and an aid to calming a fraught situation it can, as you say, be effective in a much shorter time.

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