Question: A 2-year-old steals cookies from the table and is put in "time out" for 15 minutes. Is this the best approach?
Answer: It's not a good idea to do a 15-minute time out for a 2-year-old for any reason. There's a general rule of thumb that you'll sometimes hear health professionals talk about number of minutes relative to the number of ages. So two minutes, two minute time out. The other part of this that worries me is you would never want to leave a 2-year-old alone. So a time out can be a chair in the corner but you're right there so that they don't become frightened that they're being left behind.
Having said all that, a 2-year-old doesn't really understand that they can steal the cookies. The 2-year-old feels that the whole world revolves around him or her and the cookies are part of his or her world. In this instance, I think it's probably best that the parents do their best to keep the cookies out of reach of the 2-year-old and then give the cookies to the 2-year-old, when the 2-year-old wants them or when they feel that it's appropriate they have them.