Disciplining a toddler can be tricky. It can be particularly demanding as kids at this age start believing that they are independent and try to find their identity. However, they still have limited ability to reason and communicate. Not all kids have social skills, therefore parents are required to teach toddlers about appropriate behaviour. Disciplining a child at the right age can shape your little one’s character.
But disciplining a toddler doesn’t mean restricting him to a set of rules and resorting to punishments. Parents need to realise that children are adventurous by nature and hence you should not stop them from experimenting and exploring. Discipline should be a way of instructing and training a toddler to implement good behaviour. To discipline a child, parents should try positive reinforcement when the toddler resorts to inappropriate behaviour.
For most parents, disciplining their kids is not an easy job. Of course, raising and disciplining a child is never easy, but with some efforts, you surely can succeed.
How to Discipline a Toddler – Useful Tips for Parents
Most parents keep wondering about the ways to discipline their toddlers. There is no ‘one‘ full proof method of disciplining a toddler as all children are different. It is desirable to try diverse disciplines tools and watch your toddler’s reaction to determine which particular method may suit your kid the best. Your toddler tantrums can get annoying if you do not handle them in time. So, here are some useful strategies to discipline your naughty little one:
1. Be consistent
As a parent, you need to be unfailing in your approach while trying to discipline your child. If your responses to a circumstance keep altering you may end up confusing your toddler with mixed signals. Toddlers may need constant reminders and checks to break their patterns of bad behaviour and adopt improved ways of behaving. Setting a routine for your toddler will provide him with the necessary security to behave in a calm and proper manner. This means following a consistent schedule for mealtimes, playtime, naps, and bedtimes. Do prepare him in advance for any changes in his routine to prevent any likely scenes or tantrums later on.
2. Identify the Triggers
Recognising the common causes or behavioural patterns of your toddler may go a long way in effectively dealing with him. If a toddler is hungry or sleepy, he will be agitated. With careful planning in advance, try to avoid all such potential triggers. For example, do not plan a trip to the market if your toddler is sleepy. One good way to discipline a child is to not provoke him when he is not in a good mood.
3. Develop a Sense of Self
Try involving your toddler in activities that you can do together like putting away his toys, cooking his meal, taking a bath, or getting dressed. This may build up a sense of importance in him as he is bound to enjoy your attention. Instead of giving your toddler directions give him responsibilities. For example, ask him to decide whether he wants to wear a black or a red shirt for the birthday party. Giving choices to your toddler may convey the message to him that you respect his feelings and he has a say in a particular situation.
4. Consider Your Toddler’s Perspective
Kids may have difficulty in expressing their displeasure in an appropriate manner. They may resort to tantrums to display their disagreement in a particular situation. For example, if you take away his ball saying his playtime is over but he wants to play more and you still refuse, then he may show his annoyance by crying loudly. Looking at things from your toddler’s point of view may help you prevent a budding meltdown. In such a situation, understand his point of view and find ways in which you can keep his point and yours as well.
5. Try Distraction
Toddlers usually have short attention spans. You can use your toddler’s short attention span to distract him with some interesting activity when he throws tantrums. Redirecting your toddler to some productive activity may help him forget his tantrum.
6. Positive Reinforcement
Make it a point to appreciate the good behaviour of your toddler which may encourage him to repeat it. For example, praise his good conduct at the table or the way he tidied up his room. When you appreciate him, he will be happy and understand that he did a good deed. This will strive him to do even better and he will improve.
7. Use Proper Language
When disapproving of your toddler’s unacceptable behaviour, do keep in mind your language and tone. Losing control and shouting at your toddler may not be a good idea. This will only aggravate his bad behaviour. Of course, you might be angry but take some time to calm yourself before talking to your child. The best approach can be to use a firm tone to condemn the action but not the child. If you want to discipline your child, you must keep your tone in check.
8. Express Affection
A parent’s touch meets a child needs for physical affection and stimulation and makes him feel secure. A nurturing touch may help fulfil your toddler’s need for physical affection and security. Parents who opt for a nurturing approach while interacting with their toddler encourage healthy attachment and good behaviour. Freely express your love by cuddling, hugging, kissing or simply holding your toddler in your arms. A nurturing touch may also promote the overall healthy physical growth and intellectual development of your toddler.
Sometimes simply ignoring your toddler’s improper behaviour may help diffuse a stressful situation. Try to be patient and allow his bad mood to pass. He may eventually feel tired of yelling upon realising that he is not getting the attention he sought. Later, he will realise his mistake and apologize to you. Sometimes, staying quiet also disciplines a child.
10. Modelling of Behaviour
Toddlers commonly copy their adults. They learn their responses to situations after seeing their parents’ reactions. For example, the way you treat other people, how you manage stress, how you cope with your negative feelings, your toddler is silently observing you and will behave the same. Be mindful of your behaviour and try and set up the right examples for your kid to copy. Becoming a constructive role model for your toddler can be the best way to discipline your child and inculcate good behaviour in him.
It is normal to feel stressed while trying to discipline your toddler. The initial years of a child are of extreme importance, this is the time when a child’s personality and a behavioural pattern develops. So, isntil good behaviour in your little one through affirmative reinforcement and observational learning.
Also Read: Toddler Behaviour Problems and Solutions