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According to the child rearing experts, time-outs for younger children work because they calm both the child and the parent (a cooling off period for all) and they retain the child's self esteem. Display just enough visible anger that your child knows that you are upset by the behavior with no yelling, put downs, or meaningless threats. A simple time out and a very short explanation of what was done wrong.
Do not delay the time out because you are not home. A child young enough for time outs will never tie the actual bad behavior to the time out no matter how much you explain it is for something they did an hour ago. That is an eternity for a child. If you are in a store and the behavior is not corrected buy a word then leave. It denies the child the goal. If the tantrum continues outside, go to the car for a time out and then a talk. The car isolates you and the child from external pressures and distractions. No car, there is the ground. Either way, the child sits in time out and is told that if the behavior is repeated on return to the store, you are going home. Always follow through on any consequence.
Remember an embarrassment now correcting your child's bad behavior is worth it. It will avoid repeated behavior embarrassments later caused by a "win" for your child now. The win is in quotes because no giving in by a parent because of a temper tantrum is a win for either the parent or the child. You feel bad and question your parenting skills and the child learns that bad behavior can be rewarding. Probably the two most important things you can teach a child are that you can't always have what you want right away and that proper behavior brings more rewards than bad.
A time table by age
Before 18 months - A "no", removal of object or child from the area will probably still work the best. Also, don't forget how easily a child of this age can be distracted from the problem area. By 12-14 months, it is time for the first time out.
18 months to 3 years - The tone of your voice is your greatest asset in correcting bad behavior at this age. Time outs are now established as the consequence of not immediately responding to your vocal disapproval.
3 to 6 years - If eye contact and/or one warning do not work, an immediate time out. By five, it's time to start using reason and logic. Time outs are reserved for those times when you are too frustrated to talk rationally or when your child is too distracted by events to listen properly.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
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