Saturday, December 11

Toddler Doesn't Listen, Ignores Mom, Thinks Time-Out is Funny

Question:  I have a 23 month old son. For the most part he is a good kid but most of the time he doesn't listen to me.  He will just ignore me.  I have tried time out but he just thinks it's funny. I don't like to spank him so I am trying to find an alternate way of discipline.  What can I do?  Thank you -

First of all, I'd make sure he can actually hear you.  Sometimes they have goo in their ears and can't make out what you want/say.  I usually see if they can hear noises first (does he startle, turn, etc.), then give him a direction when his back is turned...something he loves to do.  For instance, if he loves fish crackers, when his back is turned, ask him (in a normal voice) if he'd like some.  See if he turns around and comes to you.  But don't hold the food up or give him any visual cues...otherwise he will still piece it together from the visual. 

If you think there's an issue, you can have his ears checked at the doctor's office.  They can do a screen and at least see if there is wax or if his eardrum isn't moving as it should (an indication of fluid in the ear).  They can also check adenoids and tonsils and make further recommendations. 

After you determine that he can, in fact, hear you, you just have to be firm with your time outs.  At that age they haven't quite connected crime and punishment, so you are training him (so to speak) on what time outs are for.  He will think it's funny, but if you do not give him attention when he laughs about it or monkeys around, he will eventually realize that it's not so groovy.  My book covers it, but remember, no eye contact, talking, or attention during time out.  Stay with him so he stays put, but he needs his back to you, and he gets the opposite of what he is demanding.  Do not reinforce what you don't want to see - that means no attention for the behavior and no caving to demands.  You don't want to ignore the behavior, so the time-out serves to address it by telling him, "when you do this, you have to sit here and get no attention".  And make sure and tell him what you DO want and when you like what you see.  That reinforces the good.

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