Disciplining a Toddler

Toddlers are bound to test the patience of their parents as they test all of their powers in the world. There isn’t a parent in the world who does not feel frustrated with his young one, all the while finding him the most adorable thing in the whole universe. It’s important to lay down a few rules at a young age so that the child learns what is considered acceptable and what isn’t. This is a tough job for sure, but it needs to be done so as to avoid issues further down the line. Here are a few tips that can help you in disciplining a toddler.

Tips on Disciplining a Toddler

1. Say No to Bad Behavior

A firm “No” whenever your child misbehaves should teach your child that such behavior isn’t acceptable. For instance, if your child slaps a friend, you should instantly inform your child, “No slapping or hitting.” However, this doesn’t mean that you start saying “No” in response to all the activities that you don’t like as the word will lose its effect if repeated too often. For instance, if the child draws on the wall (which is not a harmful activity), tell him that drawing should be done on paper not walls. 

2. Give Time-Outs

A stronger reaction to your child’s mischief is a timeout which can teach your child not to repeat such an activity again. For instance, if your 2 year old bites someone or reacts violently by kicking or throwing something, you should explain why such actions are not allowed and then take the child to an isolated place (a chair in the kitchen, for instance) for a timeout to get calm.

Longer timeouts are usually not as effective as crisp short ones. Children would often run away from the timeout area before timeout’s completion if it’s too long and might even misbehave again by not returning to the area on your command. Deciding on the span of timeouts according to the age of your child often do the trick, with one minute for one year of age. For instance, if your child is three years old then a timeout of three minutes should be enough.

3. Use Distraction and Consequences

You can use distraction to prevent the toddler from getting involved in a dangerous activity. Whenever your mischievous toddler moves towards a dangerous object to play with it, smile and tell him to stop and try to distract him by starting his favorite activity.

You can also discipline the child with a consequence that the child would take seriously. It can either be an activity that the child dislikes or it can be taking away of an activity that the child likes. You can give him a warning like “if you put the ball in your mouth again, you won’t get to play balls for a week,” and then follow up on the warning.

4. Remain Consistent

Consistency is important when setting down the rules and you can’t backtrack from the rules after they have been set or your toddler would get the wrong message. For instance, if you warn your child that he won’t be allowed to play with his favorite toy for a day if he misbehaves again, you should go through with the punishment once the child digresses. Before laying down the law, think it through as to whether you would be able to follow up on it or not. Don’t give empty warnings as it would only hurt your reputation.

5. Avoid Physical Punishment

You shouldn’t give your child physical punishment by slapping or spanking him. According to AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), spanking is wrong and doesn’t produce any results that a simple timeout can’t produce. The thing to understand is that if you will physically punish your child, the toddler would take it as an approval to be physically violent when angry.

6. Avoid Tantrum-Provoking Situations

Children often react violently due to a few triggers with the regular ones being lack of sleep, travel and hunger. After having so much time with the child, you would know what triggers violent behavior in your child. By taking preventive measures earlier, you should be able to avoid the meltdown.

You will have to pre-plan things to avoid such situations. For instance, if you know it’s close to your child’s nap time then you should not go out till he has gone to sleep. Similarly, prepare food and have it stored so that the child’s hunger attacks are easily dispelled. You should prepare a morning routine once the child starts going to preschool, so there is no rush (another trigger of violent behavior).

7. Reward Good Behavior

The motivation to perform well comes from encouragement. Children get happy when they are showered by praise and would often follow the same behavior which gets them the praise. So, rewarding good behavior with praise will certainly motivate your child to behave.

8. Empathize with Your Toddler

Children often fail to understand why they have to follow instructions and behave properly at all times. Knowing your toddler’s feelings and empathizing with him can certainly avert tantrums. When getting a reluctant child to travel with you, it helps to acknowledge what the child feels. “I understand you are not a fan of travelling in a car, but you will get used to it.”

You can also show your respect for the child by giving him a few choices. For instance, you can make your child feel a bit more comfortable in a road trip by asking him whether he wants to bring his favorite toy or book with him in the car.

9. Calm Down Before You React

Give yourself the time to calm down whenever your temperament starts to reach its ceiling because of your child. You should send your child to a safe place and then take deep breaths to calm yourself down. You can even give your child a time-out in such a situation. Once you get normal again, make sure that you visit your child and calmly tell him off for whatever he does wrong.

10. Set a Good Example

Kids observe their parents the most and so, they learn the most by them as well. By behaving like a true role-model, you can set a good example. Your child would learn to clean his plate every time if you would do the same on the dinner table.

Watch the video below to learn more about disciplining a toddler: