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Crime & Punishment: Toddler Edition

January 27th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  4 Comments

Crime and Punishment: Raskolnikov for Little Rascals

Sasha is generally a good kid, so we don’t spend much time disciplining her. Sure, she’ll occasionally cry and scream to get her way, but then she’s no different from her mother. Only when she’s truly defiant—say, throwing food on the floor even after we’ve warned her not to—do we get mean, and issue a Time Out.

But this is becoming problematic. For one, although our apartment is spacious by most New York writers’ standards, it’s not huge, so we can’t easily place Sasha in a corner. And the corners we do have tend to be so full of tchotchkes that she can amuse herself by examining them.

Second, the only chair we can bind her to so that she won’t escape the Time Out is her high chair. And we don’t want her associating her high chair with punishment—then she won’t eat, right? And last time we did that, she gave us a mournful “I’m sorry” so quickly that her punishment was over before it began.

Worst of all, she seems to like Time Out. They use it as punishment at her school, so she’s become familiar with the term, and last night, when I was giving her a bath, she started saying “Time Out, Time Out.” Meaning, I guess, that she wanted to stay there in the bath on her own, even though she was all done and ready for pj’s and a round of “Yo Gabba Gabba.”

So, what to do with a kid who’s literally a glutton for punishment? Do we force-feed her cake and ice cream when she refuses to share? Thrust new toys at her when she pushes another kid? Or simply let her do whatever the fuck she wants, with no consequences?

Or, I suppose, do we get another chair, clear out a blank section of wall, and do Time Outs the right way?



  1. Alana says:

    January 27th, 2011at 9:05 pm(#)

    We make our toddler twins “take a break” as well, which is really the same as time out. We used to have to pick them up and physically place them in break, but now they are old enough to toddle into their rooms by themselves. At this point, they’ve learned the concept so well that they will occasionally place themselves in break when they lose their tempers. Then they come back out when they’ve calmed down and give us kisses. It’s not much of a punishment, but they are SO CUTE that we keep doing it for our own amusement. Plus we figure we can all use a break now and then.

  2. Dad On The Run says:

    February 1st, 2011at 1:07 am(#)

    I’ve stopped using TO as a “punishment”, seems most of the parenting literature and studies indicate that is not the purpose. As Alana mentions, it’s a place/time for them to calm down and collect themselves and it is expected for them to put themselves in there and act out timeouts with their toys.


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