Discipline A Toddler?

Discipline A Toddler? Picture

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? 


What do you think?

Discipline A Toddler?

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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  1. emi285 says:

    Toddlerhood is not a walk in the park. When we have our meltdowns, I take them to their room, explain why they cannot do ______ and set them on their bed and tell them when they are done crying and want to act like they are supposed to they may leave their room. It has always resulted in a 5min max crying fit from my oldest son and youngest daughter, but my middle two daughters are the drama queens and it would be a 15 minute hell spell, followed by ignoreing me for an hour. No hurt feelings there though, cause I could get more done without them underfoot!

  2. My son is 2 going on 3, and he has some major meltdowns but he always hits himself in the head or bangs his head against the floor, wall, ect. when I try to tell him "no" or when he’s angry. I cant seem to find any solutions to keep him from doing this.Anyone have any ideas?

  3. Oh, isn’t that the truth! Sometimes the one who has the most trouble with patience is ME – for sure!

  4. Janae says:

    I have been reading "I Brake for Meltdowns: How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of Your 2- to 5-year-old" by Michelle Nicholasen and Barbara O’Neal. It has some great ideas. I’ve tried a few, and had some success. I think the key is ME practicing discipline & patience – not always easy but so much better for both parent & child.

  5. Hi Brittany! This is actually one of our parenting blogs, which tend to discuss these topics a little more casually, looking for feedback from members as well. If you want more concrete information and advice, check out our Toddler section for more articles, like this one: http://www.everydayfamily.com/toddlers-battling-bad-behaviors/

  6. Hali says:

    My 1 year old bites, hard enough to draw blood if I tell her No she does it again and starts to cry what do I to? (Ps a friend told me to bite back.. that will NOT be happening) I really need a positive way to end this behavior!

  7. Tracy says:

    I think it is important to remember that they have only been here 1, 2, 3 or even 4 years. I’m guilty of thinking he should know how to act or respond to something when in reality he’s coping the best way he knows how. I think as parents we need to keep that in mind and not use it as an excuse for their behavior but as a way to understand where they’re coming from…

  8. Melissa says:

    We try to keep calm in all situations or it really does make it worse. Still its hard especially when you are out in public 🙂

  9. Dawn says:

    If she throws her food, it’s taken away and if she throws any kind of tantrum she gets ignored.

  10. Brittany says:

    Not to say I could do it better, but this article is way too short. I was hoping for detailed experiences. And more actual advice.

  11. Jennifer says:

    I have a 15 mos old son and I try to discopline but sometimes it’s hard for me, I don’t know what to do. he tends to throw stuff around or he stomp his feet when he’s angry but I can’t put him in his crib for punishment… i get frustrates and he does to. I don’t know what to do. Any suggestion?


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