Time-ins for toddlers? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-08-2012, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I am needing some discipline strategies for my 2.5 year old. Things are not out of control, but she occasionally hits, bites, or throws things as us, and we want to have a better way to respond.  I know that we are less likely to react in the moment if we have a plan of what we'll do, but we just haven't been able to pick a plan and stick to it. 


I've heard of time-in, but I have not been able to visualize how this works with a toddler.  Is anyone using this or a similar technique? I tried to put my toddler on my lap when she seemed out of control yesterday and was hitting me.  However, holding her on my lap resulted in her having a tantrum on my lap, as I struggled to hold her as she kicked/hit me and screamed for my partner to rescue her.  Surely this is not what's meant by time-in.  Does anyone have any ideas on how to respond to hitting by bringing a child closer, rather than putting them at a distance (time-out)? What do you do if bringing a child closer results in a tantrum?  Thanks for any ideas.

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#2 of 4 Old 10-08-2012, 12:54 PM
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We use time-ins! DS (2.5) is a very *spirited*, high-needs kiddo. He easily gets frustrated and worked up, and usually has at least a few tantrums per day. I've found that often the best thing I can do for him is to remove him from whatever situation he's in--what we call "time-out." It's not a punitive, "you've been bad" type thing, it's just helping him learn to recognize that he is out of control and needs a break. If DS is having a tantrum or hits a friend, I pick him up gently and take him to his room. I don't remove his toys or even close the door. He's free to come out whenever he wants, but if he's still screaming or throwing things, etc, I pick him up and return him to his room. Often, he quiets down as soon as I leave and starts to play. 


If DS is not out of control and is just testing limits, I usually use different techniques. For example, if he throws a block and I ask him not to and he does it again, I first try to redirect him. Like, "sweetie, we don't throw blocks, but you can throw this soft ball." If that doesn't work and he continues to do it, I usually just walk into a different room to diffuse the situation (as long as DS isn't in a dangerous position.)


I think each child needs different discipline. For DS, it doesn't work for me to hold him through his tantrums---it just makes him more upset. And truthfully, my blood begins to boil after listening to him scream in my ear for more than a few minutes. Often I will say, "Mama needs a time-out" and go into a different room to calm down. As long as the message your sending is "I love you and I'm here for you when you're ready..." I think time-outs, or time-ins, are ok.  

~may all beings be free from suffering~
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#3 of 4 Old 10-08-2012, 02:26 PM
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I feel for you - I'm also trying to come up with a consistent strategy.  Lately, when my daughter is having a tantrum, she throws things around and screams "I want to make a mess".  I take her into her bedroom and close the door, and stay in there with her.  I have tried leaving, but she always just follows me and keeps screaming.  I sit quietly on the chair in her room and tell her that she can come over to me when she's ready to talk and have a hug.  Since her main tantrum behaviour lately has involved throwing things and screaming, I've told her that if she needs to do that she can throw stuffed animals in her bedroom.  I don't know if this is a good idea (any input would be appreciated:), but it does seem to defuse the situation - somehow the throwing loses it's appeal a bit when it is mama-sanctioned.  If I try to hold onto her, she gets even more upset - it seems like she needs to move around to work through her emotions.  So, I suppose my version of "time-in" is to stay present and available, but to remain quiet as she works through things.  

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#4 of 4 Old 10-08-2012, 03:24 PM
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I think it's okay not to have a "consistent" response to your daughter's misbehavior.  I know with my daughter, the best response depends on a lot of factors including her overall mood, whether or not there are any factors like hunger or exhaustion, whether she's making a play for attention, etc.  I tend to do a time-out thing when I feel like she's just unable to handle herself anymore and needs to break herself out of a cycle.  Particularly if I'M angry, I do a time-out/time-in combo.  I sit her in the chair for a minute or two, take that minute to calm myself, then pull her onto my lap for some snuggles.  This does NOT work if she's having a tantrum or generally upset.  Then I stay close and tell her I'm available for a hug whenever she's ready.  For things like hitting and biting, it's usually enough to give her a cool "You're not allowed to hit me" and walk away.  She's an attention junky, so this a tough consequence for her.  Otherwise, so far natural consequences and redirection to a similar activity (as other have mentioned) seem to work best. 

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