Childrearing

How Do You Discipline A Kid Who Loves Time Outs?

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My 2-year-old loves time outs. No, really, he gets such a kick out of them. With my older son, now 6, time outs were hell. We’d send him off to the stairs for a little cool-down period and he’d get hysterical. So hysterical, in fact, that we eventually dropped time outs altogether. (Not to worry, we still discipline our child – just in other ways.)

So you can imagine my surprise when, just the other day, I screamed “TIME OUT!” to my 2-year-old and he happily ran to the stairs. He then said, all sweetly, “Don’t forget to shut the door, Mommy” (referring to the door to our family that’s three feet away).

I was in shock. First, that my two boys could be so totally different. And, second, that my little guy seemed to genuinely be enjoying his time out. I decided to spy on him. What I saw was a happy little boy smiling, tapping his feet on the ground to the music in his head. He caught me staring and gave be a nice, big smile. “Hi Mommy!” he yelled. “Time out?”

“Yes, you are having a time out,” I told him, “because you hit your brother and that is not okay.”

“Time out,” he responded playfully, as if he couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

That’s when it occurred to me: This is a kid who loves time outs. Sure, he knows he did something wrong, but being penalized for it excites him. The following day, for instance, he took a giant leap off the ledge of our couch – a big no-no in our house – and then looked up at me, all wide-eyed. “Time out?” he asked with a smile. It almost seemed like punishment not to give him one.

So after years of figuring out an appropriate way to discipline my older child (taking away screen time works wonders), I’m now wondering how to discipline my younger one. If he does something like repeatedly like swing a baseball bat in the house after I’ve told him 100 times not to, I’ll simply take it away. That’s an obvious one. Ditto removing him from the playground if, say, he continuously throws sand on the other kids. But what to do for all of those in-betweens (like when there’s nothing to take away, for instance)?

Any advice out there, Moms?

(Photo: StockLite/Shutterstock)