Toddler Discipline Tips and Advice

Image of young parents with little daughter

Hearing your little one burst into tears every time there’s a discussion about something they shouldn’t do can be stressful. This type of raw, primal cry definitely affects the mind. The important thing is to breathe in, as always. However, this affects your attitude, not your toddler’s. At this age, they need discipline in moderate to an average extent – as it’s important to help them grow without suppressing general development of character and persona.

Although the cry and protests of all types can be annoying and harmful for the environment at times, after a while you will get used to it. But being able to ignore the sound of crying won’t solve your problems or theirs. Your child will still express their emotion by experimenting with the newfound skills, yelling out of their lungs or demolishing objects and toys in the vicinity.

So what can you do to discipline your child without hitting them or yelling? Here are a couple of exercises, techniques, and ways to do that in general.

Breathing

You won’t really be able to get through to them if you’re in an agitated state or otherwise out of the zen zone. You need to be calm to be able to speak in a certain tone. So even tho your little one decided to “redecorate” your living room, or have fun with toilet paper roll, it’s important to remain calm, and breath in. This way you won’t give them credit for their misbehavior and they won’t get their satisfaction.

Once they see that the plan didn’t work and that you actually remained calm after seeing the fruits of their mischief, they’ll eventually grow tired of making such arrangements, provided that you continue explaining why it’s wrong every time they do it.

Eye Contact

Eyes reveal so much more than we think. They provide additional information about our emotions, thoughts and mental health in general. Infants and toddlers are hungry for new knowledge and will absorb every single piece of information they can find like a sponge.

Therefore it’s perfectly normal that they don’t take you seriously when you try to discipline them. Body language and your tone aren’t enough as toddler discipline requires eye contact as well. They need all the information they can get, and will notice when they aren’t getting full attention. So try with making eye contact every time you tell them something that’s of the utmost importance. While explaining the harm that can com from a specific situation, or actions, be sure to convey a sense of urgency and they won’t take the topic lightly. So remember to be decisive, pick your words and look them straight into eyes when disciplining them. Otherwise, you’ll get their attention for a brief moment but they won’t hear your words, take the matter or you seriously. And this can become a huge issue in the future as they will develop with problematic behavior.

Image of father and son talking

Attitude

Another thing you might want to work on while learning how to discipline a toddler toddler is your attitude. Being playful and goofy with your child should be reserved for playtime and cheering up. But when you need to discipline them, this type of behaviour doesn’t help. At least that is the case in most scenarios.

During this period your toddler is still figuring out a lot things, including himself. They will try different tactics and approaches to get what they want and you’re here to guide them and filter bad behaviour. Practise you attitude and find a way to switch from playful stance to “let’s talk about breaking stuff” type of attitude. Body language makes around 80 percent of communication, and by seeing how it works they too will understand the importance of it. Little by little, your toddler will understand what conversation they’re about to have every time you change your attitude. In time they will learn to correct their bad habits and be more attentive to your lessons. Remember that persistence is the key here, otherwise it won’t work.

Creative Games and Problem Solving Skills

In most cases a child will demonstrate and protest with bad behaviour because something annoys them or otherwise makes them uncomfortable. Whether it’s lack of sleep, hunger, or boredom, there’s always something that puts them in agitated state. If that’s the case with your little one, you should try with creative games and problem solving skills.

By making them feel as if certain actions are a game, they will focus all their efforts and time to resolve the matter. For example, if you want to teach them patience or how to be responsible, try making up a game that will help the process. Picking up toys isn’t fun for anyone, but someone has to do it. It’s advisable that they develop a habit of returning them to their place, as they’ll learn about responsibility this way.

Also if you notice something in their daily behavioral pattern that makes playtime difficult, try to approach by teaching problem solving skills. It requires following steps, but guarantees that you’ll resolve the issue. So where do you start?

The first thing you’ll need to do is address the problem so they understand that’s the the thing affecting their mood. They need to see it the way you do, so pick your words and avoid long and complex sentences. After you’ve located the problem try to think of ways to resolve it together. Find an approach that catches their attention but radiates with creativity. Beside disciplining them without their notice, you’ll also help them develop crucial cognitive skills. Which makes using this method extremely advisable.

And finally be sure to reward the proces, either by making them feel the sense of accomplishment afterwards or by going shopping for a toddler toys. The choice is yours.

Image of parents and little girl

Use Popular Figures and Toys

If your kid shows particular interest towards a specific figure, fictional or real character they saw on tv, you might as well use that to discipline them. They aren’t aware of it but as soon as you mention how their favorite character behaves in specific situations that they can relate to, they will tend to do the same.

So use this figure whether it’s a cartoon, or a real person as inspiration to help them overcome their bad habits. Remind them every time that their idol wouldn’t behave the way they are in that moment, and that they should strive towards becoming like their idol. Use this to supplement your discipline methods only. This isn’t a standalone way to help your child behave, but an additional exercise that will help you through the process.

Focus on the Problem

Whatever mischief your child has done, you need to keep in mind that it’s a phase and something that they’re going through. They aren’t to blame for it, and a responsible parent knows when to focus on the problem instead of child. So be sure not to blame them or address the problem as if they’re causing it. The goal here is to discipline them without making them feel bad about themselves. And being that they are in a stage when they are processing and developing ways to express emotion, you should be as helpful as possible. Instead of blaming them and afterwards feeling bad about it, try to talk about it and explain that the real problem is their bad habit. Separate them from their problems and create a wide gap so they can see it the way you do. Try to put them in a situation that will allow them to see the other side of the story. This way they’ll become more compassionate and thoughtful.

Be an Example

One of the best ways to show your child how to behave is to be an example. They are already monitoring your behaviour on a daily basis. So instead of lecturing them and spending countless hours on talking about how to behave, why not show them with your own actions?

This takes a little time to show results, but it’s guaranteed to work. Start by correcting your own behavior when they are around. Try to limit your emotional outbursts so that they won’t be inclined to do the same. Be the person you want them to become and you won’t have a single problem with them or their behavior now or in the future.

Your toddler is in a phase when they’re developing their character and practising their newfound skills. It can be infuriating at times but being that you’re a responsible parent you won’t let that get to you. The important thing is to keep your cool and don’t let the situation affect your mood. Remember that your attitude determines their future actions. And as they’re still developing you wouldn’t want them to pick up bad behavior from you. An occasion lecture from time to time is reasonable, but try not to exaggerate and be the example of a person you want them to be.

Author: Mary Lynn Holden
Author: Mary Lynn Holden

Proud mom and stepmom to an adorable bunch of kids aged 7 and up. Deeply appreciates three things in life: the help of older siblings in the house, texts on parenting, and strong coffee. Shares her stories and experiences in order to help others navigate the unpredictable waters of parenting.

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