Warnings and Time Outs During The Terrible Twos

How to sucessfully give a warning to your toddler

There are two parts to successfully implementing time out technique. The first is a warning stage, which we will look at in this article. The second is the time out phase.

The warning phase is where you tell your child that what they are doing is not acceptable and if they carry on they will have to go to time out. This gives your toddler a chance to change their behaviour now they know you don’t approve of it.

Toddler Discipline

By sticking to a set technique your toddler will learn how you expect them to act. They also learn that if they don’t behave in an acceptable manner, there will be consequences and you will follow through with the punishment.

Terrible Twos And Learning Boundaries

When your toddler goes through the terrible twos, misbehaving is not necessarily a bad thing. They are simply learning the boundaries of what is socially acceptable and wont understand these straight away, which means you, should stay calm and be patient.

It is however very important that you discipline your toddler and that your child learns these boundaries now as trying to change their behaviour when they get older is near impossible. It will also put your child at a disadvantage if you don't discipline your child as they don't learn social boundaries; they will always be labeled as the ‘naughty child’ and will find it more difficult to make friends and play with other children.

Not learning boundaries and being disciplined during the terrible twos will also make your child unhappy as they will constantly be being told off and threatened with losing toys and early bedtimes.

How does the warning work?

The warning works because all toddlers will get over excited and stimulated and will forget certain manners and behaviour's.

The warning gives you the chance to discipline your toddler by giving them time to calm down with out removing them from any toys or other children they may be playing with.

Remember: It is incredibly important to remember to praise your toddler when they do something good. Positive reinforcement is a great way of boosting your toddlers confidence and creating and strengthening that loving bond between you and your toddler.

How to give a warning to your toddler

If and when you see your toddler behaving in a way that is not acceptable the first thing you should do is keep calm. Remember they are learning and going through the terrible twos, which means you need to discipline your toddler and stop their behaviour now before it escalates into a full blown tantrum.

Walk over to your toddler and come down to their level. This will help to remove any power struggle and intimidation your toddler may feel. Keeping your terrible twos child calm will mean no tantrums and a more successful outcome for all involved.

Also keep a reasonable distance away from your child so you don’t appear threatening (think how you would feel if someone bigger and taller than you invaded your personal space).

When you are down at your child’s eye level calmly tell your child that hitting another child (or what ever the behaviour you weren’t happy with) is unacceptable and not nice and you don’t want it to happen again. Finish by saying that if they repeat that behaviour they will go to time out. Then get up and go back to whatever you were doing before.

It is important you don’t hold grudges and there are no more consequences (telling your toddler that they didn’t play nicely earlier so they must go to bed early as a punishment etc).

Voice and tone when giving a warning to your toddler

When you discipline your child and give a warning to your toddler it is important you use your voice in the right way as this will show your child that you mean business and are not just joking around.

When you give your toddler a warning lower your voice. Lowering your tone separates it from your everyday voice. This shows you are not joking and your toddler will start to learn the difference and realise that you are serious. It is important to only use this tone when giving your toddler a warning so you don’t confuse them.

Warnings should be short and to the point

When you are giving a warning you could go on for hours about why their behaviour was wrong and not nice, use big words to take out your anger and frustration etc, but how much of it will your toddler take in and learn from?

You are much better off giving your terrible twos toddler no more than three short, sharp sentences using words that they will understand (“not nice” instead of “unacceptable” etc). By doing this your toddler will be able to listen, pay attention and most importantly understand what you have said.

Remember: the warning acts as a notice to your toddler that they need to change their behaviour. It is not an opportunity for you to rant and rave at them and take out your frustration on them.

An example of how to give a warning to your toddler

Freddy has been playing with Sarah, another toddler from next door. They were quite happy playing until Sarah picked up Freddy’s favourite toy and Freddy snatched it back.

On seeing this behaviour you need to intervene quickly to stop it escalating into a big tantrum.

Walk over to Freddy and crouch down so you are at his eye level and in a lowered tone say, “You do not snatch. Sarah was just having a look at your toy and you have to be nice and share it. If you don’t share your toys you will go to time out”. Then get up and walk away.

If Freddy stops snatching toys and starts playing nicely again then that is the end of it. Don’t bring it up again later unless you want to praise him for playing so well with Sarah and reward him for it.
However, if Freddy continues to snatch the toys you will need to give him a time out to calm him down.

Things to remember when giving a warning to your toddler

  • Crouch down to their level so you are not intimidating
  • Lower the tone of your voice
  • No more than three short sentences
  • If they stop the behaviour, that is the end of it
  • If they don’t stop the behaviour then it is time out
  • Disciplining your toddler now will make life a lot easier for you in the long run.