Toddlers can be notoriously difficult to discipline. Leaving many parents to wonder how to discipline their toddlers. From age, 1 to 2 toddlers are exploring their independence, but they can’t yet understand the consequences. This can make traditional forms of discipline, like spanking ineffective.
Here is how you can positively discipline your toddler:
In This Article
- 13 Ways To Positively Discipline A Toddler
- What Age Should I Discipline My Toddler?
- How Much Defiance is Typical in Toddlers?
#1 Connect Before you Redirect
The first step is to connect with your toddler. This means getting down on their level, making eye contact, and using a calm voice. Young children communicate with their behavior since they are still learning how to use their words to express what they need.
If your toddler is behaving in a challenging way, start by asking yourself these questions:
- Do they need a nap, food, outside time, or one-on-one time with me?
- Are they overwhelmed, stressed, or overstimulated?
- Is your toddler trying to do something beyond their developmental skillset?
Take a look at how you respond and react to your toddler’s non-ideal behaviors. If you are feeling impatient, irritated, or angry, it will be challenging to respond in a way that will de-escalate the situation.
When you can pinpoint the reason, you can correct it by connecting emotionally with your toddler; becoming a positive parent starts with you!
Helping your toddler de-escalate the situation doesn’t have to be a drawn-out process. Here are a few things you could try:
- Validate and acknowledge your toddler’s feelings: Find other ways to communicate to your child other than saying “no hitting,” “no touching,” “no biting,” ETC. You may want to try saying, ” Keep your hands to yourself, please,” “People are not for biting,” or “It’s not okay to hit.”
- Listen and repeat back what your toddler just said: This shows your toddler that you are paying attention and are generally interested in helping them.
- Help your toddler learn what to say by asking them to say what you say: For example, “that’s not how we ask. Can you say help, please”
These suggestions help toddlers learn that they can solve problems in appropriate ways.
Once you have connected, redirect your toddlers to a different activity or environment.
Becoming a peaceful parent means learning how to talk to your toddler positively to get them to listen and cooperate!
#2 Use Positive Reinforcement
The next step is to use positive reinforcement. This means rewarding your toddler for good behavior. You can do this with verbal praise, a high five, a hug, or saying our personal favorite, “You should be so proud of yourself”. It is essential to be consistent with this so that your toddler continues to want to do good!
#3 Time-In V.S Time-Out
There’s a lot of debate over whether time-out is an effective form of discipline. Time-out can be used to provide your toddler with a break from the situation. However, you mustn’t use it as a punishment.
Time-in is when you invite your toddler to come and sit with you, and you provide a safe space for you and your toddler to openly talk about your toddler’s feelings in a way they will understand. This can become a great teaching opportunity to help your toddler learn appropriate ways to deal with difficult situations.
#4 Give Clear Single-Worded Reminders
When your toddler is engaging in undesired behavior, it can be helpful to remind them what the expectation is. For example, if they are running in the house, you could say “walk” or “inside voice.”
This is a short and sweet way to help your toddler remember what they should be doing without overwhelming them with too much information.
Parents become more effective the less they say. Children do not need lectures, especially toddlers. Giving clear single-worded reminders is just enough to help correct undesired behavior.
#5 Ignore Non-Ideal Behaviors
This one can be tough for parents to do, but it is effective! If your toddler is engaging in a non-desired behavior and you have tried all of the other steps, and nothing is working, then sometimes the best thing to do is ignore the behavior.
This doesn’t mean that you ignore your toddler; instead, you ignore the undesired behavior. This is an effective way to get your toddler to stop because they are not getting the reaction they want.
Giving your attention to your toddler’s non-ideal behaviors only feeds the fire.
#6 Pick Your Battles
This is a big one! As parents, we want our toddlers to listen to us and do everything we say, but that’s not realistic. There will be times when your toddler does something that isn’t ideal, but it’s not worth getting upset over.
For example, if your toddler makes a mess while painting, it’s not worth getting upset because they are just exploring and trying to figure out how the world works.
It’s important to pick your battles and only step in and guide over the things that truly matter to you. This will help you stay calm and avoid power struggles with your toddler.
#7 Affirm Their Feelings
Parents don’t always agree with their toddlers’ feelings, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t valid. It’s essential to affirm your toddler’s feelings even if you don’t agree.
For example: If your toddler is upset because you won’t let them eat candy for breakfast, you could say, “I can see that you are upset because you want to eat candy; we need to eat breakfast first before having candy”
This helps your toddler feel heard and validated even if you don’t agree with their feelings. It’s a way to build connection and trust with your toddler, which will help them be more likely to listen to you in the future.
#8 Know Your Toddler’s Triggers
Every toddler is different and has different things that trigger their behavior. When parents know their toddler’s triggers, they can avoid them or help their toddler healthily cope with them. Understanding your toddler’s triggers can help parents prepare ahead of time if they know that an unavoidable situation could potentially trigger their toddler.
#9 Tantrum Prevention
When toddlers are tired, hungry, or frustrated, it’s much more likely that they will have a tantrum. Parents can do a lot to prevent tantrums from happening in the first place by understanding their toddler’s needs and providing them with what they need before they get upset. This could be making sure they are well-rested, fed, and have had enough time to move their bodies throughout the day.
Parents can also prevent tantrums by giving their toddlers choices, avoiding power struggles, and maintaining a consistent routine.
#10 Avoid Coming Attached To The Outcomes
Parents need to remember that they are not controlling their toddler’s behavior; they can only influence it. This can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s essential. If parents come attached to the outcomes, they are more likely to get upset and lose their cool when their toddler doesn’t listen.
Giving your toddler two choices will help you not become attached to the outcomes. One option is the one parents want, and the other choice is the one parents are okay with.
“Do you want to pick up your toys now or in 5 minutes?” Either choice, parents are okay with it because the toys will be picked up no matter what. This doesn’t only work for toddlers but can also work for older-aged children.
#11 Step Into Your Toddler’s Shoes
To effectively discipline your toddler, you need to understand where they are coming from. This means being able to step into their shoes and see the world from their perspective. It will be much easier for you to find compassion and understanding for your toddler even when they are acting out.
#12 Avoid Pointing Out What Your Toddler Did Wrong
When your toddler does something wrong, it’s important to avoid pointing out what they did wrong and teach them how to make things right.
For example: If your toddler spills their milk, you could say, “oops, the milk spilled. Let’s get a rag and clean it up” This helps your toddler learn how to fix their mistakes instead of telling them what they did wrong.
Not all mistakes are bad, and children, especially toddlers, will make lots of mistakes, but these mistakes also help children learn how the world works, natural consequences and how to make things right.
It’s important to avoid shaming or making your child feel guilty when a mistake is made. Acknowledge they made a mistake, teach them how to problem-solve and how to prevent making the same mistake in the future.
#13 Set age-appropriate expectations and boundaries
One of the most important things for toddler discipline is setting age-appropriate expectations and boundaries. This means not expecting your toddler to behave like an adult or act perfectly all the time because they are not. They are still learning and growing, and making mistakes is part of that process. Parents need to remember this when setting expectations and boundaries for their toddlers.
Some age-appropriate expectations and boundaries could be:
– Staying in their beds at night
– Eating with their utensils
– Picking up their toys when they are done playing with it
-Saying please and thank you
-Putting their plate in the sink
It’s also important for parents to be consistent with the expectations and boundaries. If parents tell their toddlers they need to stay in their bed all night; they need to stick to that. If parents are not consistent with the expectations and boundaries, it will be harder for the toddler to know what is expected.
What Age Should I Discipline My Toddler?
Toddler discipline is effective around 2 when toddlers show interest in potty training. When toddlers start to understand the basic concept of consequences is when parents can begin positively disciplining their toddlers using the methods mentioned in this video!
How Much Defiance is Typical in Toddlers?
Parents need to know that toddler defiance is typical. But how much defiance is usual in toddlers? All toddlers will act out and disobey their parents at some point. It’s a part of growing up and learning about the world.
The key is not to take it personally and understand that toddler defiance is just a phase that all toddlers go through. By applying what we have been covering in this video, you will be able to help your toddler through any defiance they are showing.
Toddlerhood can be challenging for parents and toddlers since toddlers start to learn that they have their own opinions, thoughts, and feelings separate from their parents. Toddler defiance is normal and these methods mentioned above are some ways to discipline a toddler without spanking.
If you are interested in learning more about positive parenting then check out my book Parenting Without Drama where you will learn things such as how to set boundaries that stick, how positively discipline your child and how to prevent power struggles.