Time-outs aren't working with my daughter, what should I do when she has a tantrum?

Because young children do not have the ability to regulate and control their emotions, once your child gets upset, she becomes flooded with emotion and it is difficult for her to calm down on her own. Being left alone in time-out to deal with her big emotions can also be scary for her. Once she is in flight or fight mode, it is difficult for you to reason with her, and the time-out will often turn into a struggle for you to get her to stay in time-out, rather than being a time to calm down. Instead of a “time-out,” try a “time-in.” Create a cozy, calming spot that that two of you can go to together to help her calm down and get in control of her body. While this may feel like you are rewarding her tantrums, what it does is teach your daughter the very important skill of how to regulate her emotions.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.