MomSense: Time outs with Toddlers



mom·sen·se (mɒm sens) noun 1.  practical motherly intelligence that is sensible or reasonable 2. a mother’s mental discernment, realization, or recognition  – She has momsense. OR She used her momsense to determine that something was amiss.  


I never tire from the wisdom I glean from other mothers.  I am constantly surprised by how much I learn and how little I know.  It is also a joy hear how each mom attacks the same delima in a different way based on child/personality/situation/parent/time etc.  It. Is. Facinating.

I had the privledge of meeting up with Erin McF along with her twins (2.5) and her daughter (4).  We hung out in the children’s section of the library chatting for TWO hours.  Let’s just say that our children must all be part angel because once I got in the car and realized how long we talked, I couldn’t believe we didn’t leave with lessons on how to have a meltdown in a very quiet library!

While we were talking there were a couple of times that one or two of the McF kiddos did something, well, not library-like and Erin walked through a pretty cool process of warnings and then a very effective time out.  Me= impressed. 

Afterwards, I asked Erin about her Time Out strategy so that we all can gain some insight/motivation/inspiration from her as well:

{Joy} When (what age) did you start implementing timeouts with your kids?  What is different for the twins than it was with Shay?

Erin McF:  Just a little disclaimer first that I am in no way an expert on this, just a momma learning as I go.  In fact, Joy can tell you that I laughed a little when she suggested I could help with a post on timeouts.  But I did have to implement a couple of them while we were hanging out, so the topic naturally fell into place :).

Timeouts didn’t really begin until age two with my kids because I felt like that’s when they could understand what “time out” was.  But discipline started very early.  From the time they became mobile and could touch things they weren’t supposed to, we would use a flick on their hand and redirection to teach them.  It hasn’t really been too different between the twins and with Shay.
{Joy} When do Timeouts not work?

Erin McF:  Hmmm… it’s harder in public, especially with the two year olds, because they don’t stay in one place just because you tell them to :).  But we improvise… like at the library when one of the little guy’s was acting up, he got strapped into the stroller and couldn’t play.  I know sometimes it becomes a battle of the wills and they make time out a game.  I think it works best when time out keeps them from doing something they really want to do.  Like with my four year old, I don’t necessarily have to make the time out immediate.  Timeout is becoming more of losing privilege of doing something she really wanted to do.  With the two year olds it has to be immediate or they don’t remember what the discipline is for.

{Joy} What do you have to do to make them most effective?  Is it different for each child?  Is so how is it different?

Erin McF:  Consistency!!  And goodness that is the hardest part!  Every child is indeed different and I believe each parent has to determine what discipline is best for each one of their children.  It’s even a bit different at times for my twin boys.  But the more I read, the more I observe, and the more trial and error I experience myself as a parent, the more I believe that EVERY child needs loving boundaries.  Though they may not like discipline at the time it’s being implemented, it establishes parental authority, a sense of security for the child, and a loving bond.

{Joy} Is there a book that you would recommend that has helped you with twin toddlers and a preschooler?

Erin McF: There are more books on parenting out there than almost any other subject.  So the one I use the most transcends time, culture, and trends… The Bible :).  I Corinthians 13:4-8 for example challenges me.  As mommas, we love our kids in a way that’s hard to put into words.  This passage of Scripture reminds me what love really looks like when put into action:  patient, kind, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, always protects, always hopes, never fails.
Other than that, my best sources have been other mommas.  Wisdom imparted from one mother to another.

{Joy}  How do you children’s personality differences impact how you discipline them?  Does it?

Erin McF: I haven’t experienced this so much with my own children yet, but I have talked to other moms who have to discipline one child differently than another.  One reason may be having a strong willed child.  Or a little one that is repeatedly in trouble for the same issue.  As they get older, a parent can start getting to the “heart” of issues.

{Joy}  We all have good days and bad days, can you give any encouragement to a mom who might be experiencing a challenging period of dicipline right now?

Keep being consistent.  As I said before, I really believe discipline will establish parental authority, a sense of security for the child, and a loving bond between parent and child.  Keeping consistent with discipline is a challenge for me DAILY.  Just to be honest, I don’t think there’s a secret formula that works for every home and child besides being consistent.  My encouragement though would be prayer… God is the maker of my child, so I know He can guide me in raising him/her.

Thanks Erin!  P.S. I heart your photography!