The A – Z of Toddler Discipline

Help your toddler learn to behave with our A-Z of handy techniques

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AVOID UNNESCCESSARY BATTLES
If your toddler insists on wearing her wellies and it’s not even raining do you stop her?  They might not have been your first option but does it really matter? Save the battles for when it does, like when she’s refusing to wear her coat and it’s freezing. It’s OK to give in gracefully.

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BODY LANGUAGE
When asking your toddler to do something, you need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. You are your child’s authority figure and he needs to see that you are in control. Keep exasperated physical gestures to a minimum so you exude confidence.

CONSISTENCY
If your computer was firmly out of bounds yesterday, then make sure the same is true today. Don’t set rules that you don’t stick to!

D
ISTRACT & DIVERT
Probably the most simple and effective tool. Don’t want your little one emptying the contents of your kitchen cupboard? Why not suggest she helps you sweep the floor instead?

ENCOURAGE COOPERATION
Your toddler is more likely to do what you say if you ask him in such a way that encourages him to cooperate. For example, saying, ‘Would you give Mummy the book, please?’ is much more likely to get the desired response than just, ‘Bring me the book.’

FIRM VOICE
We’re talking about that tone of voice that means there’s no messing about – that you definitely mean business! Keep your tone of voice low, controlled and measured.

GIVE CHOICES
A top trick for defusing potential battles of will. It’s teatime and your toddler wants a say in what she’ll eat. Give her two options that are acceptable to you – pizza or pasta, for example. It will make her feel involved in the decision-making process.

HUNGER
It sounds obvious, but a hungry toddler is a grumpy toddler and will be more liable to mood swings. Try to keep mealtimes regular and always have some healthy snacks to hand.

IGNORE HER
Sometimes your toddler may deliberately misbehave as a way of attracting your attention. Provided she won’t cause any damage to herself or others, it might be best to ignore her. Ignoring the behaviour is failing to reward it with your attention, praise and support.

JOIE DE VIVRE
Toddlers enjoy life and their determination is something to celebrate. OK, sometimes the flipside of this is their ‘challenging’ behaviour. But remember that more than anything in the whole world, your toddler wants to please you.

KNOW YOUR TODDLER
Accommodate your toddler’s personality, needs and capabilities. When it comes to discipline, tailor your techniques to your child. For example, maybe she refuses to sit at the table, but she will respond if you explain why her behaviour is unacceptable.

LIMIT THE USE OF ‘NO’
It’s been estimated that as a parent, we can say ‘no’ to our toddlers as often as 30 times a day. No wonder the word starts to lose all power. Save ‘no’ for when it really matters. Instead, replace it with more specific phrases such as, ‘It’s not safe to play on the stairs, let’s play with your cars instead.’

MAKE SURROUNDINGS SAFE
A house full of precious objects, all within easy reach, is bound to tempt a toddler. Toddler-proofing your home will eliminate the need for constant vigilance and rebukes.

NAUGHTY STEP
Designating a specific space such as a ‘naughty step’ for time out is popular with some mums. However, this is no good if you are in a supermarket and your child is throwing a wobbly. A more general ‘time out’ approach (see T) might be more helpful.

OBEDIENCE
An old-fashioned word, but according to many experts, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t expect it from our toddlers. How will your little one know what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable unless you tell her?

POSTIIVE REINFORCEMENT
Rather than focus on the things that annoy you and become a habitual scolder, instead recognise what your little one is doing right and praise him.

QUESTION YOUR OWN ANGER
When your toddler is misbehaving, it’s easy to lose your temper. But, while your toddler cannot control her emotions, you can. Ask yourself what’s making you so angry. Perhaps your expectations are not realistic for your child’s stage of development? Remember, you’re the grown-up.

ROUTINE
Toddlers need structure to their day. Knowing what’s going to happen next and what is expected of him will make your little one feel safe and secure. A routine also ensures that your toddler’s eating and sleeping follows a regular pattern, and this can go a long way to prevent a cranky, whiny child.

SET LIMITS
The toddler years are about achieving the right balance between freedom and constraint. To do this, you need to set limits. For example, while you’ll allow your little one to run ahead of you in the park, that’s simply not an option when walking down a busy street together – she must hold your hand.

TAKE TIME OUT
This involves removing your child from a potentially explosive situation by placing him in a quiet area so he can think about his actions (and give you a moment to cool off). Give your toddler one or two warnings before placing him in time out, and leave him there for one minute for each year of his life.

UNDERSTAND THEIR TRIGGERS
Does your toddler usually kick off in the supermarket, or during a long car journey? If you pre-empt the situations that trigger difficult behaviour in your little one, you’ll be better equipped to avoid them or have a distraction ready.

VIEW LIFE THROUGH THEIR OWN EYES
Try to see things from your toddler’s point of view. For example, if he’s engrossed in an activity, perhaps give him a bit longer to finish what he’s doing before you whisk him off to go shopping or for a bath.

WORK TOGETHER
A toddler will spot any discrepancy between you and your partner’s disciplinary techniques a mile away, and will play you off against each other. Try to agree on how you want to raise your little one so, for example, if sitting at the table until a meal is finished is important to you, make sure your partner insists upon it, too.

X
& MAKE UP
Once an incident is over, don’t hark back to it, reminding your toddler how badly he behaved. Give him a kiss and a cuddle, and move on.

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YELLING
Even if you really want your toddler to cooperate, try to avoid raising your voice – unless she’s doing something dangerous. Instead, calmly tell her what’s about to happen and why.

Z
ZZZZZ
A tired toddler will be fractious and less able to cope with everyday situations. The average 2 year old needs 13 hours’ sleep – 90 minutes of which comes from his lunchtime nap.

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