Time-outs can be a great way for both parent and child to regroup, calm down, and start fresh. Even the threat of a time-out for inappropriate behavior can get a toddler to stop in her tracks. Unfortunately, time-outs don't work every time. On some children, they don't work at all. Frustrated parents: don't stress! There are ways to teach your child about correct behavior and the consequences for unacceptable behavior.
According to BabyCenter, if you don't take time-outs seriously, your child won't either. It is important to be consistent with your rules and follow through. If you gave a time-out yesterday because your child threw a toy, it's important to give a time-out for the same behavior today and every day. Otherwise, your child will be confused as to which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. Your child will also know what to expect from certain actions, and over time, he will understand that throwing a toy equals a time-out.
If your child won't stay put in time-out or screams throughout it, calmly carry him back to the designated spot, and do your best to ignore his protests. It can be hard for him to stay still, so when he is composed you can consider the time-out over — whether it's been one minute or three. As long as his behavior improves after the time-out, then the time-outs are working.
It is a parent's job to teach children that there are consequences to their actions. Instead of punishing a child, natural consequences teach him through experience about the negative and positive outcomes of behavior. Natural consequences occur when you allow your child to make a decision and then deal with the outcome. For example, if your child leaves his toy outside, then the consequence is that the toy gets wet and ruined. As long as the natural consequences won't cause physical harm to your child, such as running in the street and being hit by a car, this method of parenting can help your child learn based on first-hand experience.
Logical consequences are similar to natural consequences in that they also allow your child to learn based on experience. The consequences are agreed upon ahead of time, such as if your child plays at the table and spills his milk he must clean it up. The consequence always directly relates to the behavior, such as using allowance money to pay for a broken window rather than taking away video games as a punishment. In other words, the consequence fits the "crime." Logical consequences also work in a positive way. When your child sits properly at the table and eats his dinner, he gets dessert.
According to the Supernanny, reward systems work well to teach children that appropriate behavior leads to fun outcomes. She advises creating a reward chart with your children that allows specific rewards such as a movie night when they display proper manners and actions. Stickers are placed on the chart for good behavior, but can be removed for inappropriate behavior.
Inconsistency will lead to confusion and your child won't understand what is expected of her - resulting in inappropriate behavior, temper tantrums, and fits over consequences. No matter the type of discipline method you choose with your child, be sure to stick with it.