The Toddler Who Loves Time-Out
by Martinique Davis
Jan 21, 2010 | 1191 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Outsmarting a two-year-old shouldn’t be that difficult. I mean, every sentence out of her mouth lacks prepositions and she often speaks of herself in the third person. I should, presumably, have the language skills and mental capacity to persuade this little person to do what she should.

Why, then, do I find myself continually confounded by the simply stated arguments my daughter is already capable of making?

It goes something like this: “Elle, get off the table.”

“Big girl seat.”

“No, you need to sit on the bench. Get off the table and sit down on the bench.”


“You are not too busy to get off the table. Get off the table right now.”

She smiles.

“Elle, I’m going to count to three! Your bottom needs to be on this bench by the time I get to three!”


She’s excited. “Counting fun!”


Or, more like this: “Elle, stop throwing your blocks.”

As soon as I’ve said it, I realize my faux pas. Had I not mentioned the throwing of the blocks, she probably wouldn’t have thrown any more. Blocks aren’t that fun to throw unless someone is watching. But now I’ve said it, and I have to be consistent.

She throws another block, eagerly watching for my reaction.

“Elle, if you throw another block you’re going to time-out.”


“Yes, time-out.”

“Time-out!” she screams, throwing the block harder this time while running towards her time-out corner.

There’s no crying, and no complaining in time-out. It is inexplicable to me that she actually seems to enjoy time out. Isn’t it supposed to be a thinking parent’s best punishment?

When the obligatory minute is over, I tell her she can get out of time-out.

“No more throwing…” I start. AAARGH! I’ve done it again! Don’t mention the blocks! Haven’t I learned this?

She picks up a block.

“Time-out?” she asks, her eyes lighting up.

And I’m at a loss, defeated. Once again outsmarted by my 2-year-old.

I realize this is just the beginning. This child of mine, who once (not even that long ago) could only smile or cry to communicate with the people in her world now not only possesses a thinking mind of her own, but also the means to express what’s going on in there. She doesn’t even need proper grammar or honed debating skills to make compelling arguments that her mother finds difficult to dispute. That, I know, will come later – though probably not far off enough for me to come up with bulletproof rebuttals of my own.

What debates will she be winning as a smart-talking teenager, I wonder?

“Elle, please don’t let your milk drip on the couch (soon to be ‘don’t drive the car too fast,’ ‘don’t go to that senior boys party,’ ‘don’t make us wait up and worry about you…’)”

“OK,” she says, smiling sweetly, as milk continues to spill from her upside-down sippy cup onto the leather couch.
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