There is a lot of conflicting advice about 'time-outs.' At what age should I start using them and how can I make them effective?

Start young: The trouble with one-year-olds is that you really don’t have much leverage. You can’t bump up his curfew or unplug his phone, and if you take a toy away from him, he will probably forget about it entirely. At this age, time-outs are a perfect way for mom to express displeasure with certain behaviours. Do you have a baby who likes testing out new teeth on your shoulder? Sit him down on the floor for 30 seconds whenever he bites and he’ll soon learn that he doesn’t get to hang out with you if he keeps it up.

Give warnings: By about age 2 most kids can begin to understand the ‘1-2-3’ warnings, and it is only fair to give them a heads up that you are not impressed with their behaviour. Use your judgement though—if your child bites his sister or runs out into the street, don’t let him do it two more times before imposing a consequence. Certain behaviours get a one-way ticket to time-out...do not pass ‘Go,’ do not collect $200.

Nanny Carrie's Tip: I tend to be a bit wary of the idea of the 'time-in' but if your child is having a rough day and you're starting to notice a wear in the carpet from his beaten path to and from the time-out spot, you may need a little time together to get things sorted out. Kids in meltdown mode may need a little help getting back on track, so offer him the choice between chilling out by himself or cuddling with you on the couch. You may find that the latter helps everyone calm down more quickly.

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Author: Nanny Carrie

Nanny Carrie always knew she wanted a big family, so she made it her business to borrow everybody else's children until she had her own. You can find her embracing the organized chaos of life with five kids and loving (almost) every minute!

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