We have a three year old toddler, and he has just seemed to realize that timeouts are nothing more than him sitting in a corner for a few minutes. He has recently started doing a whole suite of bad actions (throwing things at people, hitting people, etc), and when caught, gets an impish grin because he believes that all that will happen to him is a timeout.
How do I make these things stick? Or, if there is a point where they don't, what's the escalation move? I'd rather not go towards spanking (pretty sure that will just let him think that hitting people is ok rather than a bad thing).
EDIT: Thanks for all the replies. I can see responses vary wildly depending on parenting style, so we'll be looking into these things. I can't give a check until I see which one works for my son, and even then, it'll just be for my son and another child may respond differently.
EDIT 2: We've tried a number of things from these suggestions, but so far, the idea with the most effect appears to be a) find a particular, specific spot for timeouts (in this case, standing on a subwoofer facing the corner) and b) fighting the battles to stay in timeout until he stays in timeout. He still does naughty things, mostly in an effort to get our attention when we're really too exhausted to play with him at the end of the day, but he understands that he will get the timeout and he doesn't fight it. Instead, he seems to be getting the 'mommy and daddy are worn out, I'll just color by myself' idea pretty nicely.
We tried the charts with stickers idea, but that didn't work as we found ourselves not being consistent. Without our own consistency, he just ignored the chart too. We found that to be the case with most ideas, that our own inconsistencies leads to an idea not working. It's only by paying attention to everything that we noticed it.
Thanks to everyone!