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7 steps to toddler discipline

Updated on May 21, 2014

7 steps to toddler discipline

Discipline is a word that to many of us, sounds like something 'bad'. Actually, according to the definition, discipline means to develop children's behavior by instruction and practice, especially to teach self-control.
The understanding that a toddler is a little person that is growing up day by day, using the tools that WE (the parents) give them, is the key to everything that has to do with discipline.
Here are the instructions and practice exercises that will develop your toddler's behavior and teach self-control. I suggest that both parents go through them and discuss any issues that might arise. If any of the following is not clear to you, or would like further help, please do not hesitate to contact me.
1. Consistency
Try to keep to the same schedule every day. That means having consistent nap times, mealtimes, and bedtimes, as well as times when your toddler is free to just run around and have fun. When you do have to make a change, it helps to warn your child in advance. An example would be: "Aunt Sophie is going to watch you tonight while Mommy and Daddy go out" will prepare them for a slightly different routine and may prevent a scene at bedtime.
2. Avoid stressful situations
By the time children reach the toddler stage, you've spent enough time with them to know their triggers. The most common ones are hunger, sleepiness, and quick changes in their routines. With a little advance planning, you can avoid these potential stressful situations and keep things relatively calm. So, for example make sure you plan ahead your grocery shopping and choose a time that does not interfere with your toddler's nap-time or mealtime. If there is not alternative, then you need to explain in advance that the schedule will be different, so your child will know what is coming up and won't feel out of place. In a way, when you getting yourself ready for the different tasks ahead, speak loud and update your son or daughter about what's coming up.
3. Think like them
It is hard to remember sometimes that our toddlers are not thinking the way we do, so we need to adjust the way we talk to them. For example, there are times that certain things can't change, like getting into the car-seat or holding your hand when crossing the road. Toddlers might not find that fun and definitely they do not think that it is important. Parents need to approach the situation from a toddler's perspective, in order to prevent a tantrum. For example you might say: "I know Susie that you don't getting into your car-seat, but that's what we have to do to be safe." Giving them a choice also shows that you respect their feeling. For example: " Susie, would you like to bring your favorite book or doll in the car?" In this way, toddlers feel that they are in some control while you remain in charge.
4. The art of distraction
Young children have a short attention span and with that in mind, parents can redirect their toddlers from one activity to another very quickly. Quite often, toddlers do something that you might find annoying or dangerous, therefore finding another activity for them can distract them. There is no need, in some occasions, to punish them and it is much easier to give them another exciting activity to do. Also, asking them to help you, maybe in the laundry room or cleaning the house, can help to minimize tantrums and make family life easier.

5. Time-out
At this age, toddler's understanding of time-out might be limited but it is a process that needs to start at this early stage in their lives, so it can develop through the years to come. When the behavior of your son or daughter is unacceptable or dangerous, and they are not in a position to listen to you, then a time-out corner is important. It has been suggested that, creating a 'comfortable corner', a safe place, free from distractions and stimulation, can calm a toddler down, until he or she can regroup. Actually, it is important for the parents to regroup as well, because our behavior can be inappropriate and not well-thought of. They key is to correct bad behavior, but also praise good behavior. Praising a child leads to similar behavior and your toddler will want to do it again to please you or to get the praise.
6. Stay calm
Do you remember before you had children, how you felt when you saw a mother or father screaming at their kids? Well, often all parents feel like that and hopefully now that you do have your own children, you don't criticize others about their actions. But it does not feel right, does it? It does not solve the problem, does it? So, we need to be careful about how we handle these situations. We are not perfect but we need to remember that parents are teaching life skills to their children and we need to give them the BEST!!! Therefore, staying calm is a tactic that can solve problems and it will take half them time to control any situation. When the child is out of control, then the parent needs to be in total control. Show no emotion and treat the incident as nothing important. Your child wants attention and screaming and shouting are ways to attract your attention. A toddler does not know, until you show them, that with inappropriate behavior they will not get your attention. You need to show them what you expect from them, by modeling good behavior and manners. Toddlers will get tired of trying to attract your attention through those means, and soon will realize that mummy and daddy won't react.
7. Pick your battles
Certain things in a toddler's life have to be done in a certain way, but there are so many other things that aren't worth the headache of an argument. You, as a parent, have to decide whether some behaviors are worth fighting about. For example: It should be OK to let your 2 yr old wear her princess outfit to the supermarket or wanting to read the same book for the 20th time. Toddlers tend to gradually shift from one favorite activity to another. Remember that none of us as parents is perfect-we all do the best we can. There is one thing though that we MUST do right, and that is being consistent. Toddlers will grow up and then there will be another set of issues that will arise, but if we as parents follow this through from the start, then there will more good days than bad ones.

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Parents who talk to their children about what is happening, and let them know what to expect, as well as what is expected of them, teach their children vital language and behavior skills. These suggestions are time tested and worth every parent's attention.

    • DemiT profile image
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      DemiT 4 years ago from Greece

      Denise, I agree with every word you wrote. I have tested that with my students and now I am applying the same with my 2yr old daughter. Thanks for your valuable comment.

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