Timeouts are the first stage of reflective discipline. You do something wrong, and you go sit by yourself and think it over. I have heard the appropriate timespan for a timeout is one minute per year of age. For my “four-and-a-half”-year-old, 4.5 minutes is not enough time for reflection, even if we wait to start the clock when she stops shrieking.
We have tried it all: taken away toys, activities, playdates, and tv time. We have praised good behavior with stickers, charts, and more. It never works. Isolation for a few minutes is not enough because it’s no big deal to her. But a good 2-3 hours with her Barbie dolls works on the soul. She doesn’t like it. She wants to be around the family. She wants to participate in other activities. Grounding gets the message across because the punishment is finally more painful than the bad behavior.
I thought she was too young for this. They will always be too young for everything, talking, school, dates, prom, and college. Was I going to give a seven minute timeout to my seven-year-old? She is smart; she knows what to do, and she chooses not to. I choose not to spend all day wrestling with my kid. If she won’t listen or behave, then she can be by herself for a while.
When I was growing up, I was grounded all the time. Once I had to stay in my room until I cleaned it. I was in there for two weeks! That is how stubborn I was. I drove my mother mad. I knew I was bothering her, but I was the boss. Now I know the truth. She was winning. She got to spend two weeks without me driving her crazy, and my punishment was totally self-imposed. She is a genius, and she figured me out. Now to use her skills with my own daughter. The most effective disciplinary tool I have “You’re Grounded.” Give it a try. It could change your world.