Last week a co-worker asked me about what to do with her toddler, who sounds a lot like the Princess, in that time outs are not an effective discipline method.
So what do you do when this happens?
I have to preface this by making a disclaimer – think of it as a severity clause. If your kid is doing something where someone can get severely hurt, stop them.
Here are three additional tactics you can use instead of timeouts:
1. Natural Consequences
This can encompass quite a bit. They hit a sibling? Maybe the sibling hits back and it hurts. They keep stomping around, throwing a fit? Don’t threaten to do something – DO IT. They need to see that their actions have subsequent consequences that are immediate and unfavorable.
2. Take It Away
Every kid has *something* that they live for. You just may have to take a long time trying to find out what it is. For example, my daughter didn’t really have favorite toys like our son. With him, threaten to take away his Legos and he’d stop almost anything, even breathing. For her, you could take away EVERYTHING and she’d entertain herself with a strip of paper and a booger.
We had to work hard to find something that would really affect her and we did – her nightlight (initially) and then her MP3 player or stuffed animal. Other than these items, she could care less if she had her toys or not.
For some kids, it might be playing with a special toy in the bathtub or watching a video before bed. Whatever it is it needs to be important enough to them that it will suck to take it away.
Now, keep in mind, this may make your life temporarily more difficult. Deal with it, you’re a parent and it’s supposed to be difficult. On some bad nights, I will still sometimes have to stand in the hallway to make sure my daughter stays in bed. It’s not fun, but it’s what sometimes needs to be done.
3. Hit em where it counts – their wallet
If your kid is old enough for allowance, start fining them. Make each infraction worth something, then work with them to either A. Curb their behavior or B. Fund your trips to Starbucks.
4. Pile on the work
Another way to deter kids from a particular behavior is to assign them extra work. For almost a year, I had the cleanest baseboards in the city because when my daughter talked back, she had to clean baseboards.
Find equally bad chores to assign (pulling weeds, cleaning baseboards or window sills) and assign them when kids don’t listen. This works well with toddlers as well as surly teens. In fact, if it’s teens, make the extra tasks as dirty as possible for it to be a true deterrent.
I’m surious how time outs work for you – do you use them? If they don’t, what have you done instead? Leave it in the comments!