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Your Ultimate Guide to Disciplining Your Toddler

By Lisa Hayden / May 7, 2020
Ultimate Guide to Disciplining Your Toddler

Your Ultimate Guide to Disciplining Your Toddler

Have you heard of the funny term “Terrible Two”? These are the words mothers usually use to describe the joy and pain of dealing with a toddler.

Children age 1 to 5 have short attention span and would want to get their hands on anything. How about when they throw temper tantrums at public places?

When disciplining toddlers, it is essential to be consistent. As parents, you have to show some authority and to always stick to the rules.

Let’s look first into the varying attitudes and behaviors of toddlers so you can better adjust your methods when disciplining children.

At Ages 0 to 2

Babies who are already crawling and sitting on their own are always curious and would hurriedly approach any objects such as the TV remote, jewelry and tool boxes, kitchen utensils, cleaning materials, and other household items. This is why it is important to keep them out of sight and reach.

In the event the baby has spotted the item, calmly say “no” and move your child to another location or you can distract him or her with other toys.​

Time outs for children this age may not be that effective. At this age, babies can still not understand the concept of sitting still for a few minutes at the designated time out area. Never attempt to hit or slap a child at this age (or at any age). This act will not teach any lesson to an infant; you just let them feel the pain and make them cry.

At Ages 3 to 5

Around this age, children have already started with preschool and may start to understand that actions lead to different consequences. You can begin explaining house rules to your child at this point.

You can discuss with your kid the behavior that can lead to a parent being disappointed or angry. It is common for children to use writing materials on walls or any blank surfaces. When this is done for the first time, talk to your child why this is not allowed. If he or she does it again, have your child help in scrubbing the writings on the wall. And if it happens one more time, enforce a stricter consequence like keeping the box of crayons for a day or two.

toddler discipline

As you and your child go through the behaviors that are against the house rules, you must also specify the rewards for good behaviors. Effective discipline is the balance between reprimanding bad actions and recognizing the good ones. However, don’t go overboard on the praises you give to your child. Always make it sincere and praise the effort rather than the results.

Time outs for toddlers can be enforced at this point since they already know how to differentiate good and bad behaviors. Choose a spot that is quiet and away from distractions. Pick a time out place that it not your child’s room. It will be better if it a spot where you can observe that things that he or she does while on time out. The length of stay in the time out place depends on how fast your child can behave after an unruly behavior.​

Taming a Toddler’s Tantrums

Two and three year old tantrums are the most challenging ones to deal with. After toddler years, children can still have temper outbursts. Meanwhile, older children and teenagers should also be guided when they need to manage their anger and frustrations.

Children throw tantrums when they don’t get the things they want, when an event is not favorable to them, or when they are seeking attention from the people around them. Tantrums are children’s natural reaction but parents need to teach their children how to control their emotions.

Your Role as a Parent

Managing your children’s tantrums as well as your own temper is a tough job. As an adult, you have greater control on your anger and it will be easier for kids to follow suit when they see how you handle difficult situations. When teaching your child to control their own tempers, try to be patient and understanding. This skill takes time to fully develop.

When your child is throwing a tantrum, make him or her feel that you are his or her ally. Calm him or her and explain slowly why the events unfolded that way.

When your patience is challenged by your child’s defiance or talking back, you can ask the help of your partner or a relative to comfort your child while you excuse yourself for awhile. Give yourself a minute or two to gather your thoughts.

To respond with yelling to a child during an outburst will not fix the situation. There are appropriate methods to handle anger and you should not also give in to your child’s ways in moments like this.

For example, if your child insists to buy some sweets but you refused and your kid starts to cry uncontrollably, don’t buy the candies just to fix the condition. The child will get used to the idea that throwing tantrums is a way to get the things he or she wants. This practice is actually associated with the increase in a child’s negative behaviors. The best way to react when faced with a child’s tantrum is to speak calmly and firmly. Avoid harsh words, threats, and the blame game.​

Tips in Disciplining Toddlers

Encouraging self-control in a child while he or she is emotional is a skill that needs to be practiced. It is slowly learned over time.

Guiding your child to manage emotions can start by a simple statement like: “Tell me what made you upset” or when you see your toddler throwing things, you can ask the reason behind his or her action.​

Here are some more tips on how to handle children’s sudden temper outbursts:

  1. During a tantrum, call for a time out and take your child to a quiet corner. Let your child reflect for a moment and encourage him or her to put into words the things that made him or her feel bad. Ask your kids to speak without whining or shouting.
  2. While your child speaks, listen carefully in order to know how you can help your child. If he or she needs to apologize to someone, accompany him or her while he or she say sorry.
  3. Stick to the house rules and make this a point of reference every time bad behavior comes in. State in a clear and simple manner the things the children are allowed and not allowed to do. Some examples can be:
    • No hitting among siblings
    • No cuss words
    • No shouting when at the table
    • No door-slamming
    • No name calling or code names

Let Your Child Find the Discipline Within

You might wonder where does children’s temper is rooted? The sources of the outbursts may be from the extra energy, the weary or restless feeling. Look into these tips and discover other components which contribute to your child’s tantrums.

way to discipline toddler

Lack of sufficient sleep

Enough sleep is important to an individual at any age because this is the time where the body recuperates from all the day’s activities. When adults lack sleep, they are often grumpy and the same happen to children. Kids who do not get at least eight hours of sleep are impatient and irritable.

Let them visualize emotions

When you child threw a tantrum and has become a disruption to others that is when to start time out. If your child finds it hard to clearly describe his or her feelings with words, you can let your kid use picture cards showing different emotions. Have a conversation with him or her while he or she shows the emotion he or she had during the situation.

Involve kids into different physical activities

Sports and other outdoor activities can serve as a child’s outlet to release feelings of anger, embarrassment, and frustrations. Sports like karate, soccer, and running can teach to control their tempers. This can also impart the lesson that mistakes happen but you just need to stand up and try again.

Put up a behavior chart box

If your child still does extreme bad behavior, don’t lose hope. You can make a chart indicating each day of the week. Tick a box every time your child misbehave or stamp a start when proper behavior is observed. Pin the chart on a corkboard and let your child see his or her actions in every week. Praise your child when you see that more stars are stamped on the chart as this means he or she is learning to overcome his or her stubbornness.

Space for self-discovery

They say that the experience is the best teacher. Let your child collect learning from everyday activities. A constant “no” to his or her every action will stop him or her from discovering what’s right and wrong. For example, if your child insists on playing computer games past bedtime, give him or her 15 more minutes and observe if he or she will eventually heed your instruction.

Another opportunity to get your child more is when you are watching a movie or TV show where the lead does a good deed, ask your child how he or she interprets the story.​

Recognize the positive change

Aside from the praises for good behavior, you can also surprise your child with special rewards. Prepare a draw lots of special gifts which can range from books, ice cream, or new toys to huge ones like a trip to an amusement park. Your child will surely be proud to achieve something out of good behavior.

Am I Too Tough in Disciplining my Child?

A yell or a scream at your child is a normal reaction especially when your kid’s safety is at stake. This action is necessary to call your child’s attention and keep him or her safe. You have to be firm when giving warming in moments like when your child attempts to touch a lighted candle, a sharp object, or when he or she run onto the streets with passing vehicles.

Children who are caught in this kind of situation will naturally cry. Take the initiative to apologize and explain that the urgency in your voice is because of the fear that something bad may take place. Spanking children after an occurrence like this will not do any good.​

The real sign of being too tough or stern in disciplining your child is when you regularly yell when giving simple instructions or correcting minor mistakes. This move can backfire and your child only follows you out of fear. A child who receives a lot of yelling and harsh words at home tends treat other children with arrogance and likely to bully younger kids.

If you feel that you are being tough in your ways of disciplining your children, try talk to friends, family, or parenting counselors and learn some tips in handling anger.

To summarize, the best way to communicate commands to kids is using a low and firm voice. As the parent, you have to show to your child that you established the rules and he or she is expected to follow these. The effective way to discipline toddlers is to be consistent when upholding the rules.

When disciplining your child, focus on the correcting the behavior. When your child gets an item without permission, ask him or her to return it to the owner or if he or she talks back to someone, let him or her approach the person and apologize. They will learn by seeing the consequences of their actions.

And the best way to check if your child is well-behaved? Coordinate with his or her teachers and see how your child shows good manners when you are not around.

Lastly, remember that children learn by emulating what the adults do. Be a good example to your child. It will be a sincere remark to ask your child to tidy up his or her stuff when your own belongings are well-kept.​

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