Moms

The trouble with time out

For the most part, Nora's a pretty good kid. She picks up her toys when we ask her to, she's nice to other kids, and she doesn't fuss much when it's bedtime.

But nobody's perfect -- no toddlers, especially -- and lately Nora's been manifesting the Terrible Twos by throwing her food at mealtime.

OK, no problem, right? There are ways to deal with this.

When a stern "no" wasn't working, we escalated to time out, which is what all the experts say to do.

The first time, it worked like a charm. She chucked a chicken nugget, so we immediately yanked her out of her high chair, carried her to her (well-lit and baby-proofed) room, set her down, and closed the door. She howled for about 20 seconds, then calmed down a bit, and we let her out and resumed our meal with no more throwing.

Problem solved!

Yeah, right.

After a week or two of respite, she started working out her throwing arm again -- and, to our dismay, time out no longer seems like an option.

Why? Because now she follows a tossed morsel with looking us in the eye and saying, "go room?" in a hopeful little voice. The child WANTS to be in time out!

We tested this theory, just in case. She threw, we picked her up and put her in her room, we shut the door, and silence. My husband listened outside the door for about a minute, the opened the door to find our daughter contentedly playing on the floor.

So yeah, no time out. At least not in her room. And we haven't really figured out how to make her stay in a random corner while not interacting with her, which is the way time out is supposed to work, I'm told. We march her to a corner, and she just follows us out. We put her back, and rinse and repeat. Holding her there seems like interaction (and doesn't seem to upset her), so no dice.

So now what? We tried the nuclear option, and it was a dud. We've tried making her go without dessert after dinners when she throws stuff, but she doesn't seem to make the connection. Tasing a kid is illegal, I'm told, so we're out of ideas. Now we're testing out a highly controversial "ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away" approach, in hopes that it's just an attention-getting maneuver that will fizzle out when it fails to get attention. But I'm not pleased with the results so far.

Any tried-and-true ideas out there from parents who have been through this and lived to tell? I sort of thought I'd have at least until the pre-teen years before I ran out of ideas on how to curb bad behavior, but apparently we're starting early over here. Sigh.

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