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 When to Start Using Timeouts? 
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Post When to Start Using Timeouts?
by: Kimberly Wilson

Time and time again, children are seen misbehaving but their parents are not using timeouts or anything else for discipline. Why this strange phenomenon? Parents are saying to themselves, and others, “But she’s still a baby…She doesn’t know what she’s doing is wrong…He’s too young for discipline. He just had his first birthday. Let‘s keep the fun going for just a little while longer before we start doling out punishment.” In fact, their child is not too young to understand and obey directions, and not too young to be given discipline for misbehavior. Granted, all children develop physically, emotionally and psychologically at their own pace. No two children are exactly the same. However, there is an age range and tell-tale signs of when your child is ready for a good reprimand, before she starts making you think twice about having another baby. So what is the “magic age” when kids are ready for discipline?

Children love to know what their boundaries are in life. This makes their world predictable, safe and happy. They need to feel confident that their parents will always be there to guide them and stop them when they are crossing the line. Children are explorers exploring the world they live in. When they are born, they touch and taste everything. As they grow older, they may throw tantrums. Older yet, they start lying, stealing, being confrontational just to test their boundaries. Just think about it. If we lived in a world without laws, social etiquette and order, we would have just the opposite: criminals running rampant, kids hitting kids just because they are mad and want to hit something and cars crashing into each other at intersections. Utter chaos would ensue. No one likes to live in chaos. Your child may act like he likes a messy room, no set bedtime and being able to throw and kick things, but really, he does not. It is all a test of boundaries. You must remember this!

First of all, is your child too young to be given a timeout? Generally, a child is ready for a timeout by the age of 15 months. You may be saying, “But she’s still a baby. She doesn‘t know any better.” Don’t fall for this trap. This is about the time when she can understand simple commands, say, “I’m sorry,” using either words or sign language and can feel the negative consequences of a timeout. You may believe she does not understand what you are asking her not to do, but do not be fooled by those chubby cheeks and cute smile. She may not understand the language we speak, but the timeout language speaks volumes. She will quickly understand the pattern of behavior: she does something, you speak in a firm and serious tone of voice, take her to the timeout spot away from her toys and she is not happy. All children, even babies, know that a smile on Mommy’s face is better than timeout and they will do what they can to keep that smile.

Children do develop at their own pace. Some have better temperaments. Others are not getting into as much mischief. If your child is demonstrating violent behavior such as hitting, throwing toys, or yelling, you should definitely give her a timeout so she knows right away that this is unacceptable behavior. By age 2, your child is definitely ready for timeouts. The sooner you set your ground rules for good behavior and implement consequences for bad the better. Your children will know what is expected of them at home, in public places and will be more willing to go take a timeout because they will be expecting to be given one. Starting timeouts early is the key to building a strong foundation for good behavior.

About The Author
Kimberly Wilson
Owner of
“Diaper Bags for Supermoms”

I am a former elementary school teacher. I am a stay-at-home mom and businesswoman who enjoys sharing helpful parenting advice while selling diaper bags at the lowest prices.

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Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:30 am
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