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Too Many Time-Outs?

"We've recently started our 2 1/2-year-old on time-outs, but my husband gives them for everything from hitting to refusing to pick up a taoy! Shouldn't he let some things slide?"

Maybe your husband needs a turn in the corner -- you know, to calm him down a bit over this whole punishment thing. Your child is 2 -- as in "terrible twos" -- and no amount of time-outs is going to make a human being who's been on this earth for only 30 months be perfectly behaved.

That's not to say that time-outs can't work. The general rule is one minute of time-out for each year of age. But be judicious: Use for serious offenses only, and only as a last resort; otherwise, your child's behavior won't change. Sending your baby to the corner for absentmindedly dropping a teddy bear on the floor will get you only a few minutes of crying, followed by another absentminded drop, guaranteed.

A better option for small infractions? Rewarding good behavior is a start: Pick up the teddy bear, get a hug. Giving her three chances to do what she's told is a good one, too. It gives her an opportunity to think about her actions and understand the consequences. Then there's the old "ignore it" tactic, the one where you let a 2-year-old be a 2-year-old. They drop stuff. And make a mess. And get a little loopy sometimes. That's normal, not punishable.

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