I am so far decided about not to physically discipline my children. And I am managing to do so, showing my kid what is good, and what is bad.

One downside is, that my boy still cannot talk in meaningful way

Second is, that he is "live" child so he is sometimes misbehaving on purpose.

Last real time it happened was when he bashed his (girl) friend to head with his car toy. Totally on purpose. (Not a game, not an accident)

It was obvious "crossing a line" and so far as discipline we developed "time out" in meaning, that kid is put away for as many minutes as their age (=2 minutes)

But him crying his heart out when on timeout gives me really bad feeling about it. But I am clueless what else in term of discipline should I choose. Any better ideas?

  • Make sure you don't ever display violent behaviour near your kids, including verbal violence, because kids reproduce what they see: don't argue with your wife in front of the kid, don't speak up to your son, don't shake him, etc. I grew up with a semi-violent father and believe me it's not the way: I have always been super gentle with my child and he's grown to be an angel. Some kids may need lots of physical exercise. The Time Out in a play pen is very good. We give DVDs/iPad as rewards for something (like practicing violin) and if the kid is rude or something, he doesn't get the reward.
    – PatrickT
    Oct 11, 2014 at 8:33
  • Good also for you to include the advice that was given to you by the child's development counselor / doctor that you have been seeing regarding his speech development. That way we [could have seen] what guidance you were already working with. Your child crying when they are punished is health and normal — they should not like punishment; and crying is typical a child's mechanism to control the parents' behavior. Oct 13, 2014 at 21:03
  • You write "One downside is, that my boy still cannot talk in meaningful way" . Do you see a connection between discipline and being able to talk? If yes, could you edit to clarify? I don't see how the two are connected.
    – sleske
    Oct 26, 2016 at 10:07

5 Answers 5


Hitting is common at this age, but that (or his tears) does not mean a time-out is inappropriate; on the contrary, the sooner he learns that hitting is not an acceptable form of self expression, the better off all involved will be.

Just because he does not talk yet doesn't mean he doesn't understand a significant number of words. He should know many positive words, but he also should know no.

My go-to book for effective discipline is 1-2-3 Magic (appropriate starting at age two), one of most effective approaches to behavioral (self-) correction I've ever encountered. When applied correctly and consistently, it allows time outs to be applied without the parent losing their cool, while it gives your child (if not right now, it will early on) an opportunity to correct himself if he is able to before the time out, gaining some experience in self control and managing frustration without loss of self esteem.

Consistency and a united front are incredibly important, whatever you decide.

  • 1
    can you please give me the reference to the book? Oct 10, 2014 at 13:59
  • 2
    1-2-3-Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 Thomas W Phelan PhD. Reviews here. Oct 10, 2014 at 19:50

In my opinion this is a correct way to discipline the child. We even put our 1 year old in the playpen when he misbehaves badly.

We always make sure we tell him why. Although we're not sure he understand it completly, he now sometimes stop when we tell him to.


It sounds to me like your discipline approach is working. A "time out" or "naughty corner" is supposed to be a punishment and if your child is crying, it suggests they don't like the experience. The goal here is to associate the bad behaviour with the negative consequences of discipline. It is likely he won't continue to cry each time you use this approach, once he gets used to it. But he'll still find it more boring than playing with toys or having your attention.

My eldest child had a speech delay and could barely say ten words at two year's old, however we successfully started using a naughty-corner approach from around that age. It's good to start early so that they become familiar with the idea.

Assuming your child can understand some of what you say, you can issue a warning for more minor offences before ultimately putting them in the naughty corner if they continue to misbehave. Soon, the mere threat of a naughty-corner will have him adjusting his behaviour on many occasions!

  • I think a warning is appropriate if you have reason to believe the child didn't know the behavior was wrong or the rule is new and he hasn't integrated his awareness of it yet. However, outside of those conditions, I believe that warnings are disrespectful to children, and in fact are counterproductive. If you are 100% consistent and the child gets the negative result every time, no matter what (and it doesn't have to be punishment, better forms of discipline can work), then he will better integrate the rule. Giving warnings is harmful. Oct 10, 2014 at 22:35

This is the method that my wife and i use with our son and began using this method around 18 months old.

Our son is now almost 3 and rarely misbehaves.

The trick is to make sure that they complete the entire time, and if they get up before the time is up, the time restarts. Once the time is up, fully explain why he was given the time out, and inform them that they have to apologise (either by saying sorry, or by giving a hug, depending on if they can vocalise "im sorry" or not).

It can be upsetting to listen to them cry, but as a parent, it is your job to have to deal with that to raise a well developed and well disciplined child that will not grow up to think they can do whatever they want without recourse.


I agree with what others have said, time outs can be effective, and seems appropriate in the context, and you should not feel bad about him crying.

I always give my kid a hug and 'I love you' after a time out - talking to him making clear his behavior was bad, but he is not a bad kid.

In addition, I would suggest that you talk to him about appropriate outlet for his feelings/expressions. Since he can't talk, it might be something like: Walk away from your friend when you are angry, or go hit a pillow - whatever you feel is appropriate in your house. I think that kids that age cannot be expected to be calm all the time, they have lots of feelings and it can be very frustrating not to be able to express them when they don't have words, or don't have the calm to use them. I think it is ok to show anger and frustration in an appropriate outlet, and it can even be physical (as in hit your bed or a pillow).

We also had an issue with our oldest where he would get very excited and push/hit other kids. Not maliciously, wanting to harm them, but not by accident either. We talked to him about in context of being 'excited' - I think that he really wanted to play with them, or he just didn't think about their feelings (remember other people are not really people to a 2 year old, empathy is hard). We taught him when he was playing, and got too exited he is supposed to clasp his hands together and take deep breaths. It really helped! Now he is older we tell him to count to 10.

I, myself, gets easily upset and unbalanced, and I was really quite often frustrated with no way of calming myself as a kid. I wasn't really given any tools by my parents and teachers, so I want to start early to give my kids tools to calm themselves down.

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