Time-Outs for Babies?

Amy Jo Jones

Time Out ChairScene: Finn, my older son, is building a castle with blocks. Rowan, the baby, is hovering. He's inching toward the castle and I can see he's looking for trouble.

"No," I say, as Rowan picks up a block. I know exactly what he's about to do. As his arm moves into throwing position, I say, "Rowan, I'm giving you a message. If you throw that block, you will have a time-out."

He looks at me with a devilish grin and launches. It's a direct hit. The castle tumbles. Finn freaks out. I pick up Rowan to carry him to the time-out chair and he tries to wiggle away. "That was not okay, Ro. We don't throw blocks." He disagrees and WHACK! He smacks me in the face.

Here we go.

I realize that a baby as young as 12 months or even 18 months is probably too young to really understand the consequences of their behavior. But I don't think any age is too young to try and illustrate that you can't hit someone, even if I'm not sure I'm doing it right.

So I walk him to the time-out chair. I sit him down, get down to his level, look him in the eyes, and give him a simple a message: You can't hit mommy. That hurts my body.

Of course, Rowan thinks this is fun: He's got all the attention. He makes a break for it, I catch him. I repeat myself, he laughs. I figure I've given it my best shot and I let him go. Until the next time.

Because there is always a next time. If he throws toys, I make him pick them up. If he hits me, I think it's best to remove him from the situation, even if only for a minute, so he understands something will happen if he makes that choice.

Do you think it's possible to discipline a baby? What would you do if your baby hit you or a sibling?


Image via amazon.com

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