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Why does a minute seem like such a long time? My 21-month-old son keeps hitting his little brother in the head. I send him to the bedroom for a timeout because he won’t stay put if I just put him on a chair or in a corner. I keep him there for a minute or so, but it seems like such a long time with him screaming and banging on the door. After the minute is over then I let him out and explain to him once again why he got in trouble. Are toddler timeouts supposed to be this difficult?
You have run into the reason why timeouts do not always work. Some children aren’t fazed by the idea of sitting alone for awhile. Many welcome an occasional stretch of solitude. Your son takes the opposite approach, going into a rage, which you fail to punish or prevent. This suggests you have two problems to solve.
First, the fact that the boy continues to hit his brother suggests that your timeouts are not doing the trick. So try something else. Spanking works for many children. Denial of privileges works for many children. The purpose of a punishment is to both reward bad conduct and prevent repetition of said conduct.
Give the kid a light smack on the hand or don’t let him watch TV or don’t let him have dessert. Your son is old enough to know better than to hit his little brother, and he’s old enough to lose things he values if he won’t change his ways.
Second, by allowing your son to scream, yell, and pound on the door without consequences, you have in effect told him that he need not treat you with respect. The older he gets, the tougher this belief will be on you and the rest of the family. As the parent, your job is to ensure that if you tell him to sit in a chair, he sits in the chair.
There will come a time when listening to you keeps him safe. “Don’t run in front of that car” or “Don’t do drugs” come to mind. You must establish consequences for disobedience and disregard of your instructions. If you do not, life will eventually establish them for you, and you’ll wish you had done it years earlier. Remember, parenting is a battle of wills. From where I’m sitting, your son appears to have the upper hand, and he hasn’t yet turned 2.
Is secondhand smoke child abuse? I’m just wondering because I live with my parents who are smokers, and I figure it is. If not it should be, but is it?
Many people agree with you. The effects of secondhand smoke are well-documented.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, researchers have found that children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to begin smoking as teens. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report from 2006 said secondhand smoke could contribute to respiratory infections and increase the severity of asthma in children.
The law does not always punish people for doing things that put themselves in danger. For instance, while the law requires us to wear seat belts in a car, it does not prohibit us from bungee jumping.
Exposing children to secondhand smoke is a stickier issue ethically, however, as children do not have the option to avoid the risks by living somewhere else. Smoking can factor into custody disputes, as some judges have considered exposure to smoke as a factor in determining where a child should spend his time. However, I have not found a jurisdiction where exposing children to secondhand smoke legally constitutes child abuse.
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