Time Outs Don’t Work Anymore? Try This Alternative.

by Melanie Edwards on July 26, 2010 · 47 comments

in Parenting,preschoolers,toddlers

Sad Kid

This post was first published on November 12, 2009.

There are many forms of discipline and punishment that parents use with their children. In our house, we’ve used the time out method, the just talking method, the redirecting method, and we’ve even yelled at times out of losing our patience. Hey, it happens, right?

But, lately, we’ve come up with a new system for helping our nearly-four year old daughter behave better. Ok, “we” as in the husband came up with the idea and I take half the credit since I use the method. What’s his is mine, isn’t it?

We recently turned our guest room into a play room since we don’t often have guests. (Because she needed just one more space in the house to clutter up.) The reality is that we all wanted a family fun room and wanted her room to be more of a tranquil space for relaxation and rest. So, we now have a play room and because she helped remodel the space, she has taken full ownership of that room. It is – quite frankly – her play room.

Because of that, it has also become the one true thing that she hates to not have. Therefore, we have the following hanging up on the door to that room.

Behavior Board Chart for Preschooler

What you see is a dry-erase board with sad faces on it. Normally, there are 3 happy faces on there. It’s sort of like a behavior chart.

How it works:

  1. If baby girl does something naughty or doesn’t listen, we give a warning. If she still doesn’t listen, she gets a sad face.
  2. After 3 sad faces, we close the door to her playroom.
  3. She must earn back her 3 happy faces with good behavior. We try to make the acts equal; that is, if she lost a happy face because of whining, we’re not expecting she clean up her room to earn it back. A smaller act that is comparable will do. On the other hand, if she lost a happy face because she threw a tantrum or disrespected us, then the act to earn it back must be equally as big.
  4. Once she earns her 3 happy faces back, she gains access to the playroom again.
  5. And the cycle continues.

Why this works:

  • She is seeing a visual of her mistakes as well as her achievements.
  • My girl needs more than just stickers as an incentive.
  • The playroom is a place of her own that she enjoys so it’s a true punishment for it to be taken away versus just being scolded or sitting in time out.

Of course, explanations, warnings, and the “after-talk” is all a part of this to help her understand what happened, why it happened, and how she should act next time.

We’ve really seen it work over the last few months. She even goes through periods of weeks at a time without losing a happy face.

What methods do you use for disciplining your preschooler or toddler?

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pchanner July 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I will have to keep this in mind. I can see that our son is going to be one of those children that have to hear the word no at least 10 times before he thinks that we are actually serious. We are working on it though … and besides he is only 10 months old right now so we have time.

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2 modernmami July 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Yup, you have time. You'd be surprised, though, how quickly 18 months sneaks
up on you and you find yourself doing formal disciplining! ;)

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3 Tracy July 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

This is really clever. I used some similar methods when the boys were younger, but nothing that well thought out. Great job!

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4 modernmami July 27, 2010 at 11:09 am

Wish I could take the credit! Like I said in post, my husband really thought
up the system. LOL

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5 Monica July 27, 2010 at 11:42 am

Great idea, Melanie! This would work wonderfully for me if I had an extra room. Will have to figure out something comparable.

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6 modernmami July 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

Definitely, it doesn't have to be a play room like it is for us. Something
they really love – an activity, toy, etc., might work.

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7 Silvia July 27, 2010 at 11:49 am

great idea!! I wish I have an extra room to make it a play room :(

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8 modernmami July 27, 2010 at 11:51 am

Silvia, with the baby coming along, we're now wondering if we're going to be
able to keep the playroom. :(

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9 Debbie@Invisible Heartstrings July 28, 2010 at 12:23 pm

What a great system. I could have used it when my teens were toddlers. Tell your hubby to come up with something for teenagers.

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10 modernmami July 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

haha! I'll put in the request. :)

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11 Young And Fabulous July 28, 2010 at 3:15 pm

We first use “My Job Chart” which is an online point system where in you get to list their daily things to do and if they mark it off, they get points. You can put in your own rewards for different points when they reached it. It's a great system but they don't go online regularly so it's not updated as often as it should be. I like yours better coz it's much simpler. Maybe I need to devise a similar system. Thanks for sharing!

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12 modernmami July 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

I've heard of the job charts and know there are many tools and apps out there now for parents to use. Maybe one day we'll need to get to that point as she gets older and our 2nd baby grows. For now, this works. :)

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13 Liz C. July 29, 2010 at 10:37 am

This is great Melanie. I can't wait to try some of these. My patience is already running dry this summer vacation!

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14 modernmami July 29, 2010 at 10:39 am

Good luck Liz!

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15 Lisa Renata July 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Wow, this is such a great idea. I wonder how I can incoporate it into our house. At one point my kids had their own playroom, but with time (and with the new room addition) we have moved it and is now shared with my craft room and my husbands office space. Hum. Anyway, it is with little A (my daughter, 2 1/2), that I have problems, time outs just don't seem to work for her, honestly she could care less if I gave her one. So different than my older (4), who hates them and tries his best not to get them.

Think, think, think…

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16 modernmami July 31, 2010 at 8:35 am

Is there anything else she really really likes? A game you guys play? A toy?
It's harder at that age, because they're still dealing with tantrums and
haven't yet learned to appreciate the value of “collecting” things, like
stickers, etc.

Hope you find something that works!

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17 Vanessa July 31, 2010 at 4:50 pm

You designed this to be specific to your family's needs rather than use what everybody else does! It's great! Glad it's helping you!

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18 modernmami August 1, 2010 at 4:17 am

Yes, indeed! The standard systems just weren't working for our girl.

Melanie Edwards

Blogs:
ModernMami – Motherhood…mami style
http://www.modernmami.com

40weeks Plus – All the Joys. All the Fears. All Over Again.
http://40weeks.modernmami.com

Connect:
http://twitter.com/modernmami
http://facebook.com/modernmamidotcom

Reply

19 modernmami August 1, 2010 at 5:17 am

Yes, indeed! The standard systems just weren't working for our girl.

Melanie Edwards

Blogs:
ModernMami – Motherhood…mami style
http://www.modernmami.com

40weeks Plus – All the Joys. All the Fears. All Over Again.
http://40weeks.modernmami.com

Connect:
http://twitter.com/modernmami
http://facebook.com/modernmamidotcom

Reply

20 Eren Mckay August 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm

This looks like a great alternative Melanie. I think it works because it is so visual and also focused on positive reinforcement. I can even use this idea for my kids that are older.nBlessings,nEren

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21 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

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22 Rachel White August 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Great post!

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23 Rachel White August 3, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I love using visuals to teach my little one rules of the household and in general. Once, I wrote her a poem to express how easy it was to listen, and that following instructions is not as hard as she thinks.. not only did it help at the time but she uses it every now and then.. Its a very proud mommy moment for me. nnRachel

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24 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Wow! A poem, huh? That sounds like a great idea. It’s amazing how innovativernwe have to get as parents sometimes.

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25 Eren Mckay August 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm

This looks like a great alternative Melanie. I think it works because it is so visual and also focused on positive reinforcement. I can even use this idea for my kids that are older.
Blessings,
Eren

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26 Rachel White August 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I love using visuals to teach my little one rules of the household and in general. Once, I wrote her a poem to express how easy it was to listen, and that following instructions is not as hard as she thinks.. not only did it help at the time but she uses it every now and then.. Its a very proud mommy moment for me.

Rachel

Reply

27 Rachel White August 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Great post!

Reply

28 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

29 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

30 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

31 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

32 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

33 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

34 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

35 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

That’s what we like about it too – the visual aspect. Let me know how itrngoes with the older kids!

Reply

36 modernmami August 3, 2010 at 11:49 pm

Wow! A poem, huh? That sounds like a great idea. It’s amazing how innovativernwe have to get as parents sometimes.

Reply

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