Toddler discipline: Time-ins are more effective than time-outs

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"Time-ins give me an opportunity to let them know that I understand how they feel and I love them, but I don't love their behaviour. Sometimes, that's all they need."

Time-outs are a staple of the parenting arsenal. They’re often the go-to for parents when they need to lay down the law within the household. There’s certainly nothing wrong with enforcing a rule/guideline, or reprimanding your kids in a way that you see fit. However, there is a school of thought that suggests that time-outs aren’t particularly useful when applied to a toddler.

We’re not suggesting that you allow your toddler to do whatever they please, whenever they please without fear of ever being disciplined. We’re simply suggesting a different approach. Instead of enforcing the well known time-out, try implementing what’s called a time-in.

Meredith Mortensen, a mother of three, says that it helps to think about “how hard it is being 2 and knowing what you want, but sometimes not having the language to get it out.”

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Good point. Toddlers are old enough to express their emotions, however, they’ve yet to truly develop the skills to do so effectively. Often, this leads to kids lashing out for seemingly no reason. It’s up to parents to address their unacceptable behaviour, often by punishing the toddler. And, the urge to reprimand your child is a fair and natural reaction to misconduct, but maybe there’s a better way to address their attitude.

“Sometimes these littles just want to be validated,” says Mortensen. “Time-ins give me an opportunity to let them know that I understand how they feel and I love them, but I don’t love their behaviour. Sometimes, that’s all they need.”


Learn more about time-ins and how you can implement them in your household! Click next for more!

Ages & Stages Discipline Positive Discipline Toddler Toddler Behaviour Toddler Development