In the "Yes" Camp: Time-Outs Do Work for Toddlers
"Time-out gives the parent authority to correct undesirable behavior," says Cristina Bingham, mother of three from El Cajon, California. "With fair warning, it takes the child away from all interaction and activities that entertain toddlers. For a temper tantrum, it provides an opportunity to vent. For an older toddler, it allows reflection. In general and over time, the toddler learns consequence will follow for certain kinds of behavior. ('If I pour sand on her head, I will go to time-out.')"
However, Bingham notes, it's important to remember certain rules parents and caregivers should follow when administering a time-out. "Length of time is crucial when dealing with ages, and generally one minute per year works best," she says. "For example, a 2-year-old should only spend two minutes in time-out. Time moves quite slowly for the toddler, and most parents will find a minute or two is sufficient. Also, never place a child in a 'scary' place for time-out, such as a darkened room or a closet. Remember to leave the door open when placed in a separate room. The goal is to correct, not frighten. Finally, avoid placing the toddler in his/her bedroom or crib; a toddler should associate these areas with good feelings rather than bad."
As a mom, Bingham have found that time-outs work best when not over-used and administered with careful thought. "Also, I try to talk to my toddler when time-out is over," she says. "This gives us both time to reflect over what has just happened and encourages verbal communication. Above all, I praise my kids. Nothing encourages positive behavior as praising children for the good things they do. And, in turn, this will help reduce the need for administering time-out."