Terrible Twos Lead to the Terrific Threes, Right?

This weekend my son was helping Daddy up on the hill. They're working on making room for a planter box so that they can start growing fun stuff like squash and pumpkin. (Side note: This is my husband's project. I am not interjecting with any opinions about the fact that they're working on this at the end of summer and might not get any results. They're bonding together and that's what counts.) During the fun of digging and playing in the dirt my son got the fun idea to start putting toys and trash in the post holes they were digging. My husband told him not to do it and gave him a warning. If he did it one more time he'd get a time out.

Well, as any testing toddler would do, he did it again. And he was promptly brought in by Daddy who told him that he was going on time out for putting another toy down the hole and not listening to Daddy. My son sat down as told and started telling my husband something a few seconds later. My husband kept on trying to figure out what he was saying and after about half a minute finally figured it out. "Timer go off, Daddy?" my son was asking him.

He knew that when we go on time out we have to sit down until the timer goes off. Daddy forgot. But my son is smart (at least I think so ;)) and was reminding Daddy that the timer needed to be set so he would know when to get up. So Daddy set the timer for a minute since more than a minute had passed and E was insisting on having the timer. When the timer went off, my husband explained again why E was on time out and asked that he not throw toys down the hole. E happily got up, nodded in agreement and started playing again.

Now I am not sure if time outs are doing what they're supposed to be doing (I'm assuming this is correcting the behavior by negative reinforcement, right? Taking his freedom away for doing what he's not supposed to?). Because sometimes he'll push again and again and do the same thing he was just put on time out for. But deep down I know that this time out is not only for him but for us too.

Sometimes I get very upset at my son's actions and react in a not so nice way by raising my voice and grabbing him to put him in time out instead of walking him over or telling him to walk over himself. I feel my blood start to boil sometimes and feel my face get flush. That's when I know that the time out is not only going to help our son learn but will help me take a break and gain my cool again. I try and give myself mini time outs throughout the day. 10 seconds, 30 seconds, whatever I need. Because if I don't get that time to cool off I am afraid I might react without thinking and tap his butt. So with the help of time outs I hope that I am teaching my son that we do have boundaries and those boundaries are enforced.  

Here are the steps we follow to insure that time-outs in our house are always the same and are (almost) always successful:

When E does something he's not supposed to we give him a warning and let him know if he does it again he will get a time out. If he does that action again we do not give another warning, we put him on time out (or if we told him we'd leave... we'd leave. Especially if he's just bitten a kid.)

As we walk E to the time out rug/spot we explain to him why he's on time out, how long he will be on time out for, and what we would like him to do when he gets up from time out. That can range from being nicer with his hands to saying sorry and giving his sister a kiss for throwing a toy.

E knows that his time outs are two minutes. In an effort to make sure he understands that time is passing and that his time out will come to an end after that two minutes is up we set the kitchen timer. He knows he cannot get up off the rug until the timer goes off.

After the timer goes off we make sure to tell him why he was on time out again. And we ask him to tell us why he was on time out too. Most of the time he says "I don't know". But I know if he can remember that the timer needs to be set for two minutes then he knows why he was on time out.

If he continues to do what he is doing and a time out isn't working I will usually tell him he needs to go to bed. I go into his room, close the blinds, put him on top of his covers, take away the tv (yes... my 2 year old has his own tv... talk to his dad), and close the door. I don't return for 5 minutes. That gives me time to cool down and him time to forget what he was doing wrong so he doesn't do it again. Sometimes I feel like locking him in his room for the whole day but I think he probably wouldn't mind that.

Do you have any great tips on how to react to kids pushing boundaries? Please feel free to share :)

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