Discipline A Toddler?
I'm jumping back into the forums again. It’s a topic I just can’t tiptoe away from. The subject? How to “discipline” a toddler.
First of all, let me jump on my soapbox and say that discipline and a toddler are two things that don’t go together well. Actually, I tend to try to stay far away from the word discipline when it comes to my own parenting. Discipline – or teaching or enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior – seems a bit "old school." I especially don’t care for the word “enforce.” If you’re a parent of a toddler, you’ve probably quickly realized that you can’t force much of anything with a toddler without someone ending up in tears.
How do you try to teach your child that a behavior isn’t appropriate? How can you help your child accept that many of the rules you lay down are only to keep them from bodily harm? I’m much more about behavior management. Oh, perhaps it’s only a fancy word for discipline, but I find it so much more effective. After all, it is the behaviors you are attempting to manage, correct? It's more about helping them learn to make good choices than YOU trying to enforce anything.
First things first, remember you are the parent. Your job is to shape this little tyke’s life and help them to grow up and do good things. It’s also important, no matter how frustrating a moment can be, to remember that every action will have a reaction. Every action will have a result. What is it that you want to teach your child?
For me, keeping the kiddo on track is like a constantly changing brain game. When something goes awry, first, you have to stop and think what it is and what an appropriate solution can be. For instance, dealing with food thrown on the floor? The food goes away. Throwing a toy? Toy goes up. A fit because the television gets turned off? Ignore it – be sure your child is safe, of course – then walk away. The television does not come back on.
Have you tried it?
When it’s a meltdown from my child, I often find the best thing to do is walk away and allow them some time to work through the situation. Don’t fuel their fire.
Finally, it’s important to keep your sense of humor and a sense of fun. Remember, this little human is 1 or 2 or 3 years old. They haven’t been around long and are still trying to figure it out (aren’t we all!). What may seem irritating or inappropriate to you, may simply be a new discovery. Pick and choose your battles.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to helping your toddler learn right and wrong?