What timeout alternatives are there? This page will give you some practical ideas that are actually much more effective than isolating your toddler, because they take into account how the minds of children under the age of four work.
...and why knowing the distinction between removal & isolation is so vital
*Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Many behaviour problems can be nipped in the bud before they reached the stage where removal is necessary.
If I were to ask you "what's the best way to stop your child doing (insert problem behaviour)?", would you draw a blank?
*Remove without Isolation
What if you have some good preventative techniques, but neither they nor traditional Time Out seems to do the job of preventing the more serious problems like hitting or biting? So what are the timeout alternatives?
The answer is removal without isolation.
The difference between removal and isolation is a really important distinction that you must understand if you want to successfully find a workable alternative to the naughty step.
Traditional Timeout uses both of these techniques: you remove the child from the situation in which their behaviour became unacceptable, then you isolate them.
Isolation, on the other hand, is completely inappropriate for young children. Their social skills are not nearly sophisticated enough to understand what's going on.
Their almost complete lack of emotional self-control means that for them, calming down in order to be allowed to return to what they were doing is just too big an ask. It's a bit like suggesting that, at the age of 41 (and with a bit of a dodgy knee), I take up athletics with a view to competing in the Olympic Games.
What ways can you think of to remove your child without isolating them?
Because it's based on logic. And the thing is that logic and toddlers live in different worlds. Scratch that - different universes.
Isolating a child for a short time is based on the parents’ assumption that toddlers will respond to the carrot and stick approach (i.e. the children will do what you want if there is a reward in the offing, or alternatively an unpleasant consequence)
The problem is that toddlers who are in a Timeout situation usually fall into one of two categories:
could speak, this toddler would say: "what's sitting on the stairs got to
do with what I was doing just now? What, you mean sinking my teeth into your
arm is not fun for you? I just got a bit over excited there. Did you realise that
actually I have very little ability to think in an abstract way? Like I say,
what’s the stairs got to do with the biting?”
ever been so frustrated and angry that you were unable to listen to anyone
else, until you got the feelings of your chest? We've all experienced this at
one time or another (On the phone to the complaints department of our least
favourite multinational, for example!)
Your toddler is often in the Call Centre Rage state of mind. The massive changes that take place in toddlerhood make life very frustrating at times for them.
So if timeout alternatives don't work, what then?
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