How To Effectively Discipline A Toddler

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Immediately you hear the word discipline what comes to mind? I bet you start thinking of punishments and other forms of harsh actions, however, discipline isn’t really about all that.

What is the real meaning of discipline then? Discipline is the act of guiding and directing people on the right path using measures to ensure continuous obedience and proper training. The right way on how to discipline a toddler can be tricky.

Finding the right way to go about it so it doesn’t hinder the parent-child relationship, knowing when not to be too hard and strict, and when not to be too soft, knowing the right time to discipline and the type of disciplinary methods that will be effective. It’s important for parents to have adequate knowledge of the discipline techniques and more importantly, find the ones that best work with their kids.

Kids need discipline no doubt, but most parents lack the right skills and discipline techniques on how to discipline a toddler.
Some parents avoid Disciplining because they do not want to be seen as bad or harsh to other parents. Others, base discipline majorly on negative reactions. Knowing when to start disciplining is important, so let’s see what age a child understands discipline.


What Age Does A Child Understands Discipline And When Can You Start Disciplining Your Child?

Disciplining in a child can start from as early as infancy. Immediately you start noticing inappropriate behaviors like biting, yanking people’s hair, punching, or kicking you should begin to reinforce the good behavior by always removing the hands when they bite people, do not encourage yanking hair, hold off their legs and when the child kicks, and shake your head to show disapproval.

Sometimes, you may decide to ignore it. Infants do not understand the extent of their misbehaviors so the importance of discipline may not be understood. However, as they grow older especially during the explorer years, it is important to start putting checks, setting limits and rules.

At the age of 1 year and 6 months to two years and above kids begin to understand basic commands and know right and wrong and then is when you should start discipline seriously.


Types Of Discipline

Several methods and techniques of discipline are out there, they all have their pros and cons and some are more effective than others. A combination of various discipline methods is essential to be effective in the discipline of a child. Below are some of the types of discipline methods:

1. Corporal punishment: This is the use of physical punishment like spanking, or yelling to show kids the consequences of an action.

2. Time out: Another discipline technique used for children. Here, the child is alone from everyone else for a while. It makes the child realize his or her action and helps parents calm especially if angry or tense.

3.  Grounding: Here you prevent the child from having some privileges if he misbehaves. Examples of grounding: prevention from leaving the house till the grounding is over, the child is not allowed to visit friends, not allowed to use some gadgets e.t.c.

4. Scolding: Speaking about a child’s bad behavior and action. May be done calmly or harshly.

5. Praise and reward: Constantly saying nice words and giving rewards for good things done. It involves focusing on the good rather than the bad and can stimulate the tendency to repeat the good behaviors.

6. Letting the child face the consequences of his action. Either good or bad and he learns from his mistakes.

Other methods of discipline include: modeling good behavior, distracting your kid, goal setting, monitoring, e.t.c. All these methods vary in the results they give.

In recent times, many have seen the importance of positive parenting disciplinary methods: like praises and rewards, offering choices, emotional coaching e.t.c. Parents are expected to adopt these techniques to discipline the child.


How To Discipline A 1-year-old

The explorative stage begins at this time. Kids of this age are very active, they want to explore every nook and cranny in the home and it can be tiring and frustrating to constantly control them. Here are some tips on how to discipline a toddler that is 1-year-old:

  • Set simple rules especially related to their safety and the safety of others.
  • Be consistent in correcting wrongs in 1-year-olds. Do not correct today and ignore tomorrow.
  • Praise the good behaviors. Using the tone of your voice and facial expression to talk lets them know the good and bad consequences of both.
  • Both parents should be involved in this. Leaving the job for one parent while, the other is uninvolved in the discipline may make the child see the parent who corrects as bad and the rules will not stick.
  • Pay close attention and understand more about your child and how he reacts to things. It would help you know how to work best with your child.
  • Keep explaining the rules. For one-year-olds consistency is key.
  • Anticipate: if you have understood your child to an extent you will be able to anticipate when he’s in a good mood or when he’s cranky. Toddlers are in their best mood when dry, fed,
  • Playful and much drowsy and cranky after a long day outdoors. Knowing what to expect helps you know how to tackle them.
  • Your one-year-old will move around and you can’t stop that, to keep your kid safe and avoid the frustration and correction every time, proof the house from anything that can break or cause injury.
  • Find alternatives and things that can distract your kid. For example, if they do not like bath time, play nice music, or make bath time quick.
  • When tired, frustrated, stressed, and angry is not the best time to address wrongdoing.
  • Do not spank no matter what.
  • Do not use negative words like hate, bad, wicked.
  • Yelling may only end up upsetting you and your kid so avoid it.
  • Use distractions; if you find out your child wants to exhibit bad behaviors.


How To Discipline A 2-Year-Old

This time is a bit of a struggle for toddlers. They are now trying to become independent. But haven’t yet mastered the act so, it can be incredibly frustrating for them.

Most two years olds can change moods almost immediately, happy this minute and wailing the next. They face disappointments and trying to grow up can be challenging for them.
Here are some tips on how to discipline a toddler that is two-year-olds effectively:

  • This time, you will get more irritated so prepare for it.
  • Keep in mind that discipline isn’t only about punishment but emphasizing good behaviors, making them feel positive, and making them learn from the mistakes sometimes.
  • Start simple when expressing rules and boundaries. When you both are in good mood, use that opportunity, so they can grasp the point.
  • You may have to ignore and be quiet sometimes. Allow them to cry and express their emotions. When they are calmer draw them closer and encourage them to express themselves in other ways than tantrums.
  • Take breaks. Remember your patience will be tested a lot this time. When you notice you are getting emotional, give yourself some time to calm down.
  • Be involved: Your kid is trying to manage his emotions, needs, independence, trying to grow up. Understand and help out. Do not always see misbehavior.
  • Sometimes the repeated explanations do not work, that is why it is important to keep it simple.
    Constantly chant simple rules.
  • Create a consistent routine that is easy to follow the earlier they are just the easier it is to obey.
  • Offer praise and reward.
  • Do not resort to yelling instead try to explain things calmly.
  • Try not to hit. If you feel the urge to walk away.
  • Give them things on your terms.
  • Do not overindulge.
  • Being understanding of the mind of a toddler and their face, challenges will make it easier for you to know how to reach out to them. If you think like an adult only to address an issue you may always get issues with them.
  • When you use time out, be close by to let them know they are not abandoned and Always have a discussion with them afterward.
  • Sometimes to not be too restrictive allow them to face the natural consequences of their actions.
  • You can choose to distract him with other things when you notice he wants to misbehave.
  • Make kids explore, but in a safe environment. Be watchful.
  • Offer advice when they are stuck with a problem instead of jumping in to help them solve it.
  • Help them cope with new changes.
  • It shouldn’t be always about their faults.
  • It will take time and a lot of patience.


How To Discipline A Three-Year-Old

Dealing with a three-year-old is even tougher than a two years old. Just when you feel they are beginning to be independent, you find out that they are more stubborn and strong-willed.

They always want their needs met, they try your patience, do things on their terms. It’s just a way of them showing their independence, however, you can get them to do the right things. Here are some tips on how to discipline a toddler that is 3 years old;

  • Set up routines: If you have established routines early with your child, it will be easier to follow now at 3 years old if not, start setting up simple and easy routines and stick to them.
  • They will be very watchful at this moment. Now is the time to mean everything you say and don’t say what you don’t mean. If you had made a promise at this time you would need to see through it, so be rational and think before you talk.
  • Do not overlook warning bells: Hungry spells, cranky times, tired times, times when they are eager to play.
  • Be in their world. Play with them, be part of their play so you can bond and get to know them better. Knowing your kid better will give you a better idea of how to deal with them.
  • Avoid yelling at all cost.
  • This time, your kids will start yelling back at you if you do it often.
  • Stick to rules that count and avoid all the unnecessary rules. It makes you both stressed.
  • Be consistent in everything you do.
  • Set limits and consequences and ensure you follow through with the consequences.
  • Praises and rewards for positive behaviors.
  • Do not give in to their tantrums.
  • Sometimes ignore.
  • Take time to hear them out.
  • You don’t have to give into everything but it makes them know you are always open to listen.
  • This time your kid needs you to be part of your world. They want to ask thousands of questions, want to be assured that you are there for them. So, make more time for them.
  • Set expectations that are simple easy to follow and be clear.
  • Instead of helping them out solve their challenges all the time suggest solutions and see how they go through with it.
  • Do not enforce things on them all the time offer choices too.
  • Don’t bug them with too many activities: ballet, piano classes, et al. Even if they are fun and interesting it will tire them out.
  • Do not get carried away by everything they say. kids lie at this age. Listen but act wisely.
  • Create a safe environment that they can play freely in and encourage regular play.
  • Distract and redirect when you notice they are getting bored or angry or cranky.


How To Discipline A Stubborn Toddler

Kids’ stubbornness stems from a number of factors: traits from the parents, the need to be free, wanting to express emotion but unable to do so friends influence, and sometimes it is just a phase that will pass.

While most kids are generally stubborn, some others are more complex to deal with. They naturally want to test your boundaries and defy you. Sometimes it is like they enjoy it. They say no to everything, defile orders, break rules.

While disciplining a child can be tough disciplining a stubborn child, is triple tough, frustrating, and embarrassing for the parents. Here are some useful tips on how to discipline a toddler that is stubborn:

  • Analyze what the No means
  • Be simple and objective with rules: Avoid unnecessary rules and be clear with the rules you give.
  • Create a connection: One of the first ways you can have an edge with your kid is when you bond with them and be their friends. If you can establish this, with your toddler, he will be more open to listen and obey you.
  • Find out every opportunity to give praises and good compliments. If your stubborn child receives plenty of praises from you rather than yelling and angry emotions it makes your child know that you are not against him.
  • When you are angry and want to yell, take a walk. As much as possible to minimize reacting with anger.
  • Create simple boundaries and stick to them.
  • Offer choices: Discipline is not a one-way street where you give the rules and expect them to stick to every time. It will only create friction. So as you give rules, offer alternatives and stretch them so that your kids will see choices to pick from so that they don’t have to defile everything you say.
  • Give them a heads up before you change an. activity.
  • Limits saying No as the easiest answer. Think of other words as I’ll consider it, why don’t you try something else.
  • Engage: Find out creative ways to always engage your toddlers the more they are engaged the lesser the battles.
  • Do not be tempted to overindulge: Yes your kid may wear you out and sometimes the easy way out is just to give in, but it only makes matters worse and leads to raising a child you can’t control, so sometimes put your feet down and when you have to say no without backing out.
  • Be very clear with what you can give and cannot. Making fake promises just to stop an instant whining will not help.
  • Do not always do punishment is the easiest means of discipline.
  • Let there be terms of negotiation.
  • Do not respond based on their behaviors instead be the bigger person.
  • Teaching them of consequences of the wrong action is important but do not be too hard.
  • Use rewards.


How To Discipline A Child With Special Needs

Taking care of a special needs child is challenging enough. Facing the condition, it might seem easier for the parents to put no limitations and boundaries on the child. However, discipline is highly needed.

Not only does it make the child learn, you truly show love when you inculcate values in the child, even with an underlying condition. Below are some tips on how to discipline a toddler with special needs:

  • Getting a better understanding of your child’s condition will help you know how to engage in disciplining.
  • Set simple, clear, and realistic expectations.
  • Be calm when you are angry or stressed.
  • Picture schedules can be used as tools to help the kid establish routines.
  • Make the child do the fun things he likes.
  • When angry try and redirect the emotions.
  • Explain the consequences of wrong actions.
  • Discipline should be void of punishments like spanking, hitting, or yelling.
  • Believe in your child.
  • Be direct and clear in instructions.
  • For rules, rewards, corrections, and schedules, be consistent.
  • Focus on the wrong behaviors and correction not on criticizing the child.
  • Follow your Instincts, sometimes when you feel you are going too far, stop.


How To Discipline Without Yelling And Hitting

Yelling is usually an easier option for parents, after all, it’s only talking, I won’t hurt my child, they reason. However, there is a better way out than yelling.

  • Set clear routines and be consistent with them.
  • Take breaks and time-outs when you’re getting emotional.
  • Do not give repeated treats, it only escalates to yelling and hitting.
  • Always let your child know the consequences of disobeying.


Benefits Of Discipline

Discipline aims to weed out the bad and weak traits and imbibing good and better skills in the kid. There are tons of benefits of discipline, some of them are:

  • Teaches kids to manage their emotions.
  • Kids are safer.
  • They to become respectful adults.
  • Learn to manage situations.
  • Learn to make good choices.
  • Kids manage anxiety.
  • More productive and result-oriented.
  • More independent.
  • Open to learning.
  • Create good social interactions with other kids.
  • Learn self-control.
  • Helps kids develop good values.
  • Better at following instructions.
  • They feel positive about themselves when they have learned to do the right thing.
  • They grow up to become better adults.


By all means, discipline is needed for every parent to groom the child. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing, a combination of the different methods and techniques is what makes it effective Discipline is positive. Establishing a positive parenting technique is what counts.


Save this for later mama! 

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Author: Thrivingmum

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