My son is nearly 2 years old and a bit hyper. Sometimes he is openly defiant and when we correct him he sometimes hits.

I have been reading that with timeout you want it to be 1 minute for each year of the child and that they have to sit still and be calm before you start the countdown.

This is impossible for my child. He just won't sit still and will escape the dark quiet room. If you lock him in or restrain him to your lap then he violently explodes in a vicious 10 level tantrum every time. I try to wait him out and after over a half hour of screaming he becomes hoarse and gets so upset that he starts to vomit. That or in his thrashing he bangs his head on something really hard and becomes a danger to himself.

I can't put him through that anymore. Is timeout not effective for every child? If so then what am I doing wrong? If not then what is another effective way to correct bad behavior like hitting?

Note, I am not going to spank my child. I will only swat his hand if he is doing something dangerous and I want him to associate pain and danger with something.

2 Answers 2


Lock me in a room and I'm going to explode, too. Especially if it's a punishment. Time outs work very well as actual breaks - not directly punishments. IE:

Okay, Johnny, you're hitting me and that makes me sad. I think you're not in control of yourself right now. Let's take a couple of minutes of alone time to get you back in control.

If they don't work at this age, though, which is quite common: don't use them on him. If he's hitting you, give yourself a time out instead.

Okay, Johnny, you're hitting me and that makes me sad. I'm going to go away to [less fun room] and [do something boring] for a couple of minutes. If you get back in control and can be nice to me, we can keep playing.

This even works if you're doing something he doesn't particularly want to do, such as bedtime. Odds are he wants your attention - that's probably part of why he's hitting - and making it clear that hitting does not get more attention. It also usually has the same effect of "resetting" him that a normal time out has; after a couple of minutes away, his trigger will have stopped affecting him and you can return to what you were normally doing.

Most children want to be good. It's just very hard to concentrate on being good when you're 2 (or 5 or 25...). Losing control happens, particularly when triggered by excitement/frustration/anxiety/other strong emotions. The goal should usually be not to punish the action, but to teach him to restore control, while reminding him the action is inappropriate, and requiring him to 'fix' the action - say sorry, clean up the spilled milk, pick up the thrown toys, etc. - to restore the equilibrium.


I have that with my two year old daughter. This is a very hard age to discipline. At this age they do understand positive reinforcement. Try giving a treat, aka jelly bean, chocolate chip, if he stop right away. There is the side that you will be reinforcing bad behavior - but this will stop behavior without the tantrum and harmful behavior. When you give him the treat reinforce the reason - 'I am giving you this treat because you aren't hitting'.


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