Tantrums & Time-Outs

Hi Mommies! I told you this was coming.  It seems the terrible twos have hit early for our Lily.  It started with her tantrums and has evolved into hitting, throwing and kicking.  She went through a stage of doing it VERY often but luckily that has started to slow down. I have no doubt with life changes on the way (little brother included) these outbursts may get worse.  The only thing I’ve read over and over again about discipline is that you NEED to be consistent.  I listened to an amazing audiobook that made it clear how important consistent discipline is.  So, when Andy and I started to get overwhelmed we called up our psychologist who is well-versed in this topic and we worked with her on a plan.  The plan is based on a warning system followed by time-outs.  Andy and I have never done this before, so we thought this would be a good place to start at the least.  We are committed to being consistent but we know there is always room to grow.


We really believe this plan sounds like a good starting point if we continue to stay consistent.  It has the makings of creating a child who understands how her behavior and choices will affect her and the people around her.  I really believe this will help us but I know it will be TERRIBLY hard for months, probably a year.  Lily is old enough to understand a lot but I think there will be a serious learning curve for getting her to stay in one place for an entire minute.  I’ve tried before to keep her in time-out for 30 seconds and I literally couldn’t do it.  I was picking up and putting her back every 10 seconds for 5 minutes.  That gets old REALLY fast.  Our psychologist warned us it could take 20 minutes just to get through one time out but that she WILL eventually get it.  So, is this going to be pleasant? No.  But will it be worth it in the long run? I believe it will.  Scroll below to see our exact discipline plan.  We are thinking about starting this weekend!   Wish us luck, we need it!


Lily Tantrum

Photo by Molly Lou Photo

Lily’s Discipline Plan


Step 1- Tell her “no yelling or crying, Lily”

Step 2- Say “If you’re not able to calm down, we are going to go sit in time-out”

Step 3- If she doesn’t stop, tell her “time-out for 1 minute” & bring her to the time-out area.  Set the time-out clock for one minute.

Step 4- If she stands up & tries to walk away, pick her up without saying anything and put her back & start the timer over. (It’s OK if she is continuing to tantrum while she is there.  She just needs to stay for a full minute)

Step 5- Once she calms down, tell her “I love you and I’m glad you made the choice to stay in time-out for one minute. Now you can play and have fun!” Celebrate a lot and be very excited.




Tantrums in Public

Repeat Steps 1 & 2 above then tell her it’s time for a “time-out” and bring her to a quiet space and face her/the stroller towards a blank wall & wait for her to calm down.



Throwing Food Off High Chair

 *To start, don’t give her too much food at one time.  Try to give her your attention while she eats so you can stop the behavior before it starts.  Take most of the food away as she starts slowing down.


Step 1:  If she throws food on the floor, say “no throwing” & ask her if she is “all done?” If she is, say “That’s not how you tell us you’re all done Lily.” And take the food away.  If she isn’t, say “no throwing” and try to distract her or limit how much food she has on her high chair.

Step 2: If she throws food again tell her “Lily, that is not how you say ‘all done’ if you throw food again you will go to ‘time-out’”

Step 3: Ok, “Lily chose to throw her food again, so now time-out”. And put her in time-out for 1 minute (you can also just keep her in her high chair for time out and face the high chair against the wall)



Harmful Behavior

Step 1 QUICKLY reprimand.  Say “NO” in a forceful voice & immediately bring her to time out.   Say “Time-out 1 minute”

Step 2:  Once the timer is over you can pick her up and give her a hug and say “I love you, I understand that you are frustrated but  It’s not okay to hit/throw/kick/bite it hurts other people”




Step 1: Before she whines or immediately after the first time, say  “Lily, I am busy right now.  You need to wait to talk to me until the big hand on the clock gets to ____ (this time and point) unless you are hurt, have to go potty or are hungry.   After that time, you can ask me whatever you want and we can play.

Step 2: If she whines again, say “Lily, I said I was busy, if you whine or interrupt me again, we go to time-out”

Step 3: If she whines again, don’t say anything. Pick her up and bring her to time out. Say “time out for one minute (point to the time on the clock).   If she leaves the spot, bring her back & the timer starts over.  Say “time-out starts over now. 1 minute”


*If she bothers you when you are busy but asks nicely (the first time) you can tell her you are busy but offer her a distraction (tv, food, toy) until you are done.  If she continues to bother you, begin steps above.



Throwing or Dropping Toys (if it is not at anyone)

Step 1:  First time, give it back to her and tell her “if you drop or throw it again, you’re telling me that you’re all done with it and it will go bye-bye”

Step 2: If she throws/drops it again “Okay Lily made the choice to be all done” and continue to take it away and don’t give it back.



*Notes about time-outs:

-If Lily starts flailing uncontrollably or getting worse emotionally, it is OK to put her behind a baby gate or close the door to her room (as long as it is safe) for the rest of the time-out

-No talking to her during time-outs unless its to say “no” occasionally if she’s flipping out.

-Make sure there is no stimulation in the time-out area

Our psychologist thought it might be a good idea to sit Lily down before we implement our discipline plan and let her know what is about to happen.  For example, telling her that we are about to start teaching her lessons about how to behave.  If she misbehaves she may have to go to time-out which is a place where you can have time to calm down in a quiet, safe place.  We want you to know how much we love you and how much this will help you grow into a big girl!  I like this a lot.  I think it’s important to treat children like they are part of the family and talking to them about what is about to happen is a way of respecting them.  I even do this with my dogs!

Well, that’s it, folks!   Do you have a discipline plan for your kids or do you just kind of let it ride?  Is there any method you have used that really seemed to work or any that were a total bust?  Have you used time-outs?  Let me know, I would LOVE real mommy experience here!



  1. Alexa
    August 23, 2018 / 2:00 PM

    Read the book 123 magic, i’m compelled to share because it was life changing for us after we had our second baby. Our now 3 year old doesn’t get time outs anymore because he stops the behavior as soon as we say “1”.

    • Katie Levitre
      August 23, 2018 / 2:27 PM

      What!!! That is amazing. I’ll have to read! Thank you!

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