Tips for Effective Toddler Discipline

Angry Little Girl

Whether you’re raising your first toddler, or whether you’re raising your first toddler who acts out, understanding how to discipline your child is important. Disciplining a toddler isn’t like disciplining an older child, and many of the techniques that you used to redirect negative behaviors before the toddler stage won’t work now, either.

Fortunately, billions of parents have raised toddlers before you, and most of them came out unscathed. Here are some tips to get you on the road to modifying your toddler’s behavior:

  • Maintain consistency. Give your child a reliable pattern of behavior. Help her to understand exactly how you’re going to act and react. When you maintain consistency and predictability, your child feels safer and more secure. This also helps to calm her. Keep a consistent schedule, including meals, naps, bedtime and playtime. Every time the toddler acts out, responding the same way helps to shape her behavior.
  • Watch out for situations that cause your toddler stress. By the time your child is a toddler, you know what sorts of things are going to stress him out. The major ones tend to be sleepiness, hunger and a venue change. Plan in advance to avoid these situations. Anticipate when your toddler is going to be tired, for example, so you can avoid hectic places such as the grocery store.
  • Think the way she things. She doesn’t yet understand many of the basic principles adults and older children do, such as how to behave in public or how to follow directions. Look at things from her perspective. For example, if she doesn’t want to get in the car seat, let her know you understand. You might say, “I know you don’t enjoy the car seat, but it’s what we need to do so that we can go see grandma.”
  • Give him a break. The time-out is a good tool when used correctly. Limit the time-out for a toddler to one or two minutes. Learn to refer to it not as a punishment, but a way for him to relax. Create a time-out spot and call it his “cozy cubby,” for example.

Correcting toddler behaviors can be a challenge, and sometimes you’ll need to rely on distraction or, in other cases, simply giving in. Try these techniques to avoid toddler behavior problems and to help your toddler recover when there is a problem.

So, what other techniques do you use?

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