5 Effective Ways to Discipline Your Toddler
So your little one is well into the “terrible twos” and you’re struggling with discipline. We understand how hard it is to find the right balance of disciplining a child in an age and developmental stage appropriate manner, so we’ve compiled a list of effective ways to bring your little one into line.
- Be firm – When your child is acting out, it is important that you are direct in your approach and stick firmly to your orders. This does not mean raising your voice or yelling but instead speaking clearly and maintaining eye contact. Also, it helps to use short and simple language such as, “Stop hitting. No hitting.” in repetition to allow your child to process what you are telling them. Lastly, a part of being firm also means following through with consequences. For instance, if you tell your child to stop throwing their toys or you will put them away for the night, but do not follow through, eventually your child will see through your empty threats, warranting continued misbehavior.
- Be consistent – The “just this once” notion seems harmless but let’s be honest, how many times has “this time” turned into “sometimes” and so on? This can be confusing and frustrating for your little one and can lead to temper tantrums down the road. In addition, be sure you and your spouse are enforcing the same rules and expectations for those same reasons. This also helps keep your child from seeing one parent as a meanie or bad guy compared to the other.
- Keep calm – Dealing with an inconsolable child or one who’s acting out can be increasingly frustrating as a parent, especially when you feel you’re not getting through to your little one. It’s important, however, to keep calm when disciplining your child because losing your temper can further trigger your child, making the situation worse. Not to mention, losing control of the situation gives your child the impression that you are no longer in charge.
- Demonstrate – Depending on the age and developmental stage of your child, they may not completely understand why what they’re doing is wrong. This is where demonstration helps. Instead of just telling your child that throwing their toy at their playmate is wrong, try showing them how to share while explaining what you’re doing. For instance, saying things like “we don’t throw our toys at Jane, we hand them to her nicely, like this,” may be more effective.
- Encourage – For small children who are still developing communication skills, acting out or misbehaving is sometimes a mere cry for your attention. This is why it’s important to take notice and show your child when you are pleased with even the small things they do. This will help encourage and reinforce positive behaviors.
The earlier you begin to use these discipline methods, the sooner your child will begin to understand what is expected of them. Also, be sure to check your guilt at the door by reminding yourself why discipline is important for your child’s development.