It can be difficult to piece together both criticism and love when providing discipline to a toddler. No parent wants to be considered overly permissive or overly rigid. Understanding appropriate age-related milestones can help to determine the most effective methods on how to discipline a toddler.
Tip #1 – Remain Calm
It’s easy to become angry when your toddler acts out. If you demonstrate anger, the odds are that your child will not listen to you anyways and will instead be distracted by your reaction. Try taking a few deep breaths when you’re on the verge of becoming upset. Refocus and then do your best to let go of your anger. It may help to re-adjust your expectations of your child’s behavior at this point in his/her development.
Tip #2 – Choose your Battles
It is important to determine which of your toddler’s behaviors are the most concerning. Once this is established, then you can then set appropriate limits for these behaviors and subsequently follow up with appropriate consequences. Try to incorporate positive reinforcement as well, which will encourage good behavior and positive actions.
Tip #3 – Know your Child’s Triggers
If the same situations seem to make your toddler engage in bad behavior, try r distracting them with something else. For example, if your child tends to pull items off of the shelves when at the grocery store, try bringing their favorite stuffed animal or toy to the store with you. If your child begins to misbehave, distract them with their toy.
Tip #4 – Keep Communication Simple
When choosing which methods to use on how to discipline a toddler, it is good to keep in mind that children between 2 and 3 years old have short attention spans. When correcting your toddler’s behavior, make sure to speak in short, simple sentences. Repeat these short sentences several times and use appropriate facial expressions and vocal inflections.
Tip #5 – Maintain Consistency
When implementing disciplinary methods, be sure to maintain consistency. Always respond in the same way. If you change your reaction to your child’s behavior, you will confuse them. If your child’s behavior is unacceptable, then this behavior should be unacceptable all of the time. If your child tries to appeal to your softer side by trying to make their behavior appear “cute”, don’t give in and continue to remain consistent.
Tip #6 – Practice Prevention
If you know that your child does not do well with new experiences, make sure to properly prepare them ahead of time. You can say something like “We’ll be visiting your cousins today but they live very far away and we still have a long way to go. . Don’t worry, we’ll be there soon.”
Tip #7 – Listen and Repeat
When you repeat your child’s concerns, it helps them to understand that you are not ignoring them. Repeating their complaints helps to decrease their level of anger and helps to defuse conflict. You can say something like “I understand that you want to keep playing with your friend and that you don’t think it’s fair to stop now, but mommy has to go home now to make dinner and so we’ll have to come back another time.”
Tip #8 – Give Choices
A useful trick for providing discipline is to give your child choices. Oftentimes, an angry outburst is actually a control issue. When your child refuses to do something, you can give them a specific choice such as “what would you like to do now, would you like to pick up your dolls or put away your books?”
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