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How to Discipline a Toddler

Strategies and Tips On How to Discipline a Toddler


When it comes to toddler discipline, everyone has their own distinctive approach and method. What’s yours? Do you believe that you have to wait until your child is older to start setting limits? Or are you a firm believer that it’s never too early to begin a toddler discipline regime? No matter where you fall on the behavior modification spectrum, almost every parent agrees that, at some point, every child needs a healthy dose of toddler discipline.

parent standing over their upset child

Understanding the Basics of Toddler Discipline

While some parents feel that disciplining a child feels negative and “mean,” it’s important to remember that, at its very core, toddler discipline is primarily about setting behavioral boundaries that have long-term social effects. The way you effectively discipline your child when she is a toddler will help her understand socially acceptable behavior throughout her life. By not reacting and responding to your child’s bad behavior, you may actually be affecting her ability to engage and connect with those around her in a positive way in future situations. When done in a firm but encouraging manner, toddler discipline can actually be a healthy experience for your child.

When Is the Right Time to Start Disciplining Your Little One?

While many experts agree that it’s never too early to begin basic behavior modification tactics, age three usually marks a time in your child’s life when he can actually understand why you don’t want him to behave in a certain way. Despite your child’s expanding cognitive functions, remember that he is still a toddler; you must keep your message short and to the point to ensure that you have a captive audience.

When beginning a consistent toddler discipline routine consider using the following techniques for success in your home:

Create a Time-out Location: Whether it’s a step, chair, or bench somewhere in your home, it’s important to designate a spot used solely to give your child a time-out when she isn’t behaving properly. When your child presents poor behavior, warn her that the next time it happens she will have to go to her time-out spot.

If she misbehaves again, put her in time-out to think about her actions. Once the designated time-out is over, discuss why she was disciplined, hug her and then move on to another activity.

Employ Positive Reinforcement: Of course, responding to bad behavior isn’t the only way to discipline your child; there are plenty of ways to deliver positive reinforcement and encouragement. Whenever you see your little one behaving well, praise her.

Other Ways to Successfully Discipline Your Child

Looking for further ways to successfully help you child learn good behavior from bad? The most important thing is to be consistent with the following actions:

  • Set clear, unwavering boundaries about what is (and isn’t) okay behavior
  • Have consequences for misbehavior
  • Warn of consequences in advance
  • Be consistent to ensure that your parenting message is clear
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