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6 toddler discipline ideas that will make life easier for both of you

As a parent of a toddler, you might look at your little boy or girl and wonder who’s impersonating the lovely baby you used to know.  While this may be a common feeling among some parents when it comes to disciplining your toddler, you may want to focus on a few tips that will help reinforce positive behavior while addressing the negative action so that you can assist your little one as he or she slowly transitions into a toddler.

Toddler discipline ideas

Prompt discipline

Sometimes when you’re looking after multiple children, or you’re outside of the house with your toddler, you might put off discipline for a few moments. Making sure the other children are safe or not wanting to discipline your child in public are normal reactions but according to Dr. Kristin Carothers, a clinical psychologist, addressing an issue immediately helps your child to better understand the connection between action and consequence.

Little girl with head down sitting on sidewalk
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Assurance of love as a toddler discipline idea

Disciplining a toddler is not all rosy and easy, and it does involve a continuous process. Patience is called for so that your toddler can achieve this important social milestone. On the one hand, you have to be cautious enough to address the bad behavior in a real-time fashion, since your toddler may neither remember nor understand why you’re scolding him later. Also, you’ll need to resist the temptation to shout and try to talk calmly as you call out the bad behavior without condemning your child.

Assure your toddler of your love, but be firm and consistent with the consequence. If you follow through with age-appropriate punishment like time-outs, according to renowned pediatrician Harvey Karp, M.D., you won’t find a need to negotiate for good behavior.

Provide a clear explanation

Another toddler discipline idea from Dr. Carothers involves giving specific, actionable guidance to your little one. While telling her “no” might get her attention, your toddler still doesn’t know exactly what to do or not to do. However, when you tell your toddler to stop hitting, for example, then she has a clear idea of your expectations.

Father playing with toddler at an airport
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Offer attention often

With busy schedules and many commitments, carving out some time to listen to your toddler helps you to learn more about what goes through his mind. This toddler discipline idea will go a long way in instilling good behavior. Child behavior professionals say that listening tops the list of means through which parents can win over their toddlers.

You can achieve this by routinely engaging her in a play session and by using this time to gently correct bad behavior as you condone and give thumbs up for the good behavior. Avoid reacting by shouting even when she errs.

Also, learn to ignore harmless actions and think ahead enough to keep trouble at bay by putting aside non-play, harmful, or fragile items in the immediate environment that may attract his attention.

Setting examples

Toddlers learn by seeing. This is just the way they are. You may talk to them often, but when all is said and done, they emulate what you do. Teach them empathy by being willing to discuss their situations even as you set limits, and do this with love. They will feel the love and remember the action plan against the bad behavior.

Also, shift your punishment from time to time so that you are not too predictable. Learning not to overuse time-outs helps maintain consistency while teaching flexibility.

Choose your battles wisely

Like any other age group, toddlers require you to pick your battles carefully as noted by Dr. Linda Pearson, child psychologist. You risk taking away the desired effect of discipline when you call out the same behavior repeatedly. Over time, your toddler stops taking you seriously, and the behavior gradually becomes worse. So you’ll both benefit from choosing the behavior that’s the most severe and needs the proper attention as opposed to the most annoying. Plus, you’re showing your child that he can’t get the best of you, and you’ll provide more positive attention instead of negative.

With these toddler discipline ideas, you’ll get your little one back on track while maintaining the peace and closeness in your relationship with her. And though it might not feel like it at the time, you’re doing your children a favor by showing her early on that the world doesn’t always bend to her will. And that’s a vital life lesson that carries into adulthood.

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Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
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