Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Power of Isolation

I just finished listening to the Mom's Notes presentation "Toddler Training". I really loved this presentation because with toddlers there is so much power with the tool of isolation. And what is so great with isolation is it removes ALL power struggles between your toddler and you - and let's face it, toddlers are all about power struggles! And personally, I love how isolation is leaving me the one in control of the situation, not my toddler!

So your toddler hits her older brother. Instead of standing there explaining over and over the moral reason why we don't hit, you just pick up your toddler, say "No hitting" and take her to her bed to sit until the timer goes off (10-15 minutes). When the timer goes off then go and get your child and move to the next activity.

If you toddler throws a temper tantrum, pick her up, take her to her bed and tell her you will come back once she has a happy heart. You need to be close by (not so close that she knows you are there...temper tantrums need an audience to be effective!) and the moment she calms down go into her room and say "oh, I see you have a happy heart now" and take your toddler out of her room.

If your toddler starts throwing food at dinner time. Give a verbal warning. If they continue, then take them to their bed for isolation. When they return to the table and if they continue their behavior, their meal is over and they need to sit on their bed until the rest of the family is finished eating. What would you be teaching your child if instead of having them sit on their bed until dinner was over that you instead allowed them to run around and play? You're teaching them that if I throw food at the dinner table, evidential mom will let me down to play! -- as the Ezzo's say "you are always teaching your children something". In other words if you tell your child to pick up their clothes and instead you go behind them picking them up for them, you've just taught them that mom will do it if they don't...

Toddlerhood is a tricky time when it comes to discipline. Staying focused on one behavior at time that you want improvement on will help you not feel overwhelmed. Also, the use of chastisement should only be for direct defiance and lack of first time obedience. Other than that, natural or logical consequences are the appropriate methods for correction. And at this age a very logical consequence is isolation -- losing the freedom to be around others. Remember to be directive in your training (see my prior post) and don't underestimate the importance of couch time (I'll write about that soon) and structuring your day!

Oh, and if your toddler is getting off their bed when you put them there for isolation, then you will need to use a crib or play pen since they have demonstrated they can not handle the freedom of staying on their bed. And don't worry about using their place of sleep for isolation -- I had this concern too. Your kids will not associate their crib or bed as a bad place to go when it is time for bed. Think about your tone and actions when you are putting them on the bed for isolation vs in the bed for bed time - they know the difference.


  1. Great post and great blog! I have a toddler boy (and 3 older girls. He is just such a handful and so different from his sisters. I am going to try this. I always heard not to put them in bed when they or in trouble because they would start to hate their bed or room. Good to know that is not the case!

  2. Yeah, I've used the crib and their beds for time outs (isolation) and have never had issues of them not wanting to go to their beds for night time. Again, your tone and approach are different and are kids are smarter than we give them credit for sometimes...they know when they are going to their bed for time out vs bedtime. And welcome to my blog!!! Look forward to hearing more about you and your journey too!