Timeouts for Toddlers? New Parenting Study Has Surprising Results

New research shows the most effective way to discipline your toddler.

— -- Disciplining your child is a polarizing topic for parents as everyone has different feelings on what they think is right.

Some parents choose to love their toddlers through their tantrums.

“Parents can really use it as a teachable moment to show their kids how to problem-solve and to teach them how to express themselves,” Yahoo parenting senior writer Elise Sole told ABC News.

And others choose to ignore the fit and enforce a timeout.

“When a child is really being defiant, they’re hitting, they’re overwhelmed with emotion; that child is best suited for a timeout,” child and teen development specialist Robyn Silverman said.

It’s even a hot-button topic on social media.

“Love them through it,” one mom wrote.

“I ignored the tantrum. She never did it again,” another added.

But before parenting battle lines are drawn, a new study says both sides are actually right. Researchers from Oklahoma State University interviewed 102 moms of children 18- to 30-months-old who provided detailed descriptions of five times they had to discipline their toddlers for hitting, whining or defiance, and found that toddlers need both reasoning and punishments.

Mara Kimowitz, a mother of three, says when it comes to her little ones, she prefers the nurturing approach, especially for her 4-year-old son.

“I really try to calm him down, get him to use his words or get control of his emotions, and then from there decide what my next step is with him,” she said.

Experts say go with your gut, pick your battles and tailor your responses to the severity of the toddler’s behavior.

“The first thing to remember from this study is there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to discipline your kid. Every kid is different. It’s about knowing your kid,” Ericka Souter, parenting expert and an editor at the website Mom.me, said on “Good Morning America” today. “The second great thing is that we’re hearing that timeouts can be a good thing and we should utilize them when it’s appropriate.”