I think they’re working.

Timeouts, that is. Or maybe it’s just the combination of focusing on lowering my stress level, his new language explosion (even if it’s still in a super secret language that only I can understand), and him finally getting old enough to understand, if only a little bit, that there can be consequences to his actions.

I don’t know, I don’t claim to know. I’m just cautiously happy, and really debated even writing this for fear of jinxing myself. But since I’m always quick to complain on here, figured I’d better balance out the bad with the good and let you all know that my toddler is less and less like a terrorist lately.

So what is my magic formula? Well, I read a little and listened a lot, and so many people reitterated the same message, “ignore the negative and praise the positive”. Now, that’s not to mean you ignore behavior that is timeout worthy, but I’ll get to that later. Remember how he was hitting his head really hard on random doors, walls, with toys and his hands? As hard as it was to not try to intervene, I took many seasoned parents’ advice and just ignored it.

As soon as he starts his caveman like behavior I just go totally Valley Girl on him and am all, like, “Whatever!” roll my eyes (okay, maybe not the best behavior to model, but it just comes so naturally), turn my head and walk away. It blows his mind. I also like to employ this Valley Girl method when he is sitting in timeout. I cross my arms and keep my eyes focused on the other side of the room, completely ignoring him, his pleas, his pulling on my pants. He gets NOTHING from me. NO acknowledgement. As a result, I’d say head bashing has decreased by a good 60%.

So, yes, let’s discus timeout. To be fair, I feel like he’s just now coming to the age where he understands what timeout is. I told a friend the other day that I feel like there is a window between 12 months and 18 months where all you can do is corral this new little beast and do your best to keep them from injuring themselves or others, but, to me, that age is just too young to really get a clear message across about timeouts and consequences.

But, let me tell you, the minute he was 18 months old, I saw a change in him. He was understanding if he wanted X, he needed to do Y. So we reinstated the timeout. He stays in it for a minute or two at most, but, like I mentioned earlier, I completely ignore him the whole time. And  think since I try really hard to positively encourage him throughout the day (which can be really tedious and annoying at the grocery store… “GREAT job sitting so nice in the cart. You are SO PATIENT. GREAT job not screaming. I’m SO PROUD of you for not crying.”), he gets that I’m upset when he’s not getting any sort of attention from me for those two minutes.

And it’s not even like he’s in timeout very often. I think we’re getting to the point that sometimes the mere threat of timeout is enough. For example, was changing his diaper today, which is also known as the WWE Smackdown around here, and I had had it with his crocodile rolls, sending poop everywhere. I thought it out and eventually threatened a timeout (because, you know, you do have to follow through to be effective, and sometimes timeouts are a really inconvenient option, especially when that means I’d have to leave turdlets on the floor for the dogs to possibly eat so I could take him to the “naughty corner”). Lucky for me, the threat was enough. He magically laid still long enough for me to get the mess cleaned up and his diaper on. It was a marvelous breakthrough!

Of course, this is not to say that I’ve got it all figured out. Just to give those of you out there struggling with your own little terrorist a glimmer of hope, I guess. And really, I’m thinking more than anything this is going to be a hilarious post to reference in another 6 months when he gets really serious about this whole independent rebellion thing.

Kendall is 19 months and one week old

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  1. I love you so much. There is nothing better in this world than reading your blog, and realizing that I am not the only person having issues with my kid. That my kid is not the only toddler in the world that throws an outright FIT when we go to change his diaper. That it WILL get better. And this statement :

    “I feel like there is a window between 12 months and 18 months where all you can do is corral this new little beast and do your best to keep them from injuring themselves or others ..”

    is the most on the spot comment I’ve ever heard about dealing with a young toddler. SPOT. ON.


    • Aw, thanks Stephanie 🙂 I’m always glad to hear that I am not alone either. And I LMAO to think of my earliest timeout attempts. Such futile, hilarious efforts, spawning booty shakes to Kanye West and demonic belly laughs.

      I think the best one liner I can say to myself these days is “This too shall pass… right??” Of course, once it does it will be replaced with something equally challenging or greater.

  2. I used to love it when babies were about 13 months old. They could finally understand simple instructions and didn’t talk back……. then my son came along speaking at an incredibly way to early age.. he was talking back at 13 months (thankfully my daughter was a slow talker :))

    The one thing I have learned with kids is that they are always in phases, in regards to their behavior and just as soon as you figure out one they move on to something else.

    Though I have found that it is very interesting when my 4 year old and 14 year old are in the same phase, that can be interesting let me tell you.

    I have come to learn each and every stage since they pass so darn quickly.

  3. “But, let me tell you, the minute he was 18 months old, I saw a change in him. He was understanding if he wanted X, he needed to do Y.”

    I completely agree. My son, who’s just a few days younger than K, changed right before my eyes when he hit 18 months. I think we’re going to need to start timeouts too just to get him to chill out when he doesn’t get his way or may hurt himself.

  4. Michelle Nolan on

    Thanks for the reassurance! Caroline turned 18 months this week…maybe I won’t have to sell her to the gypsies after all 😉

  5. It is so completely true!!! At 18 months they do seem to understand and have an easier time doing things. Just this morning my 15 (almost 16) month old had an absolute fit because she wanted my keys but she did not think I was going to give them to her so as I was trying to hand them to her she was throwing herself on the floor and kicking and screaming. And some nasty lady at JC Penney told me that was what I got for having kids too close together. I briefly considered spanking her (the lady not my daughter) for having such a foul outh but figured I might get into trouble. My point is that in a few months she will probably understand the motion for getting my keys out without the verbal yes that I forgot to give her today.

  6. um, THANK GOD there is a light ahead of us. In like, 2-2.5 months evidently. We can make it. I feel like, at nearly 16 months old, we have hit that crucial point on the graph where mischievous behavior and not grasping ‘consequence’ cross. It is so difficult gauge whether he KNOWS throwing Christmas ornaments is ‘bad’, or if he really thinks they’re balls to toss around! He just takes CONSTANT corralling and supervision these days!
    Trying to remember consistency is key, praise for good behavior is important, and that like ALLLLL other developments, it’ll seem like he ‘gets it’ overnight. In Febuary. Just 2 more months, right? Promise me, Jill!!!

    • All I can say, Julie, is that when Kendall was 16 months old, I was LOSING MY MIND. So hang in there. It might get worse before it gets better, but then it’s bound to get better before it gets worse again, right??

  7. Hello i just received a popup from my firewall when i opened your site do you know why this occured? Could it maybe from your ads or something? Thanks, really odd i pray it was harmless?

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