For decades, time out has been the go-to punishment parents use on kids of all ages. But for toddlers who’re just learning to recognize their feelings and verbalize them, telling them to sit in a corner with their thoughts can be ineffective. Consider the following 10 ways to discipline your toddler that can help correct their behavior while teaching them what was wrong with it in the first place.
10 Stop The Activity
If your toddler is beginning to act out during an activity (and they’re not calming down), then stop whatever you’re doing. This will teach your child we can’t continue doing fun things when someone is acting fussy or unkind.
Explain to your toddler you can resume once they’ve calmed down. But if that doesn’t happen, then remove them from the environment to show that things must come to an end if they’re not watching their behavior. Remove your child from the restaurant, stop the play date, or pack up the activity to show you mean business.
9 Take Away The Item
On a similar note, if your toddler is having a fussy over a specific item, then take it away. Show them that if they can’t share or behave themselves, they’re going to lose out on privileges, like playing with the toy they want. You can offer it back to your child once they’ve calmed down and demonstrated they’re not going to be ill-behaved.
8 Cancel The Plans
If there’s something your toddler has been looking forward to (like a trip to the beach or park), warn them that you can’t do it if they’re acting poorly. If your child continues to act out, cancel the plans entirely. You’re not going to have fun going somewhere with an unruly toddler, anyway.
Be sure to stick to your guns and don’t just use false threats, so your toddler knows you’re serious.
7 Have A Level Conversation
If you go right to a traditional punishment (like a time-out), your toddler may not understand what they did wrong. Oftentimes, tantrums are started because your child is experiencing big feelings they can’t manage.
When your toddler acts out, get down to their level and try to have a conversation with them. At 2-years old, your child is just developing their language skills, so you can’t expect them to explain in detail why they’re frustrated. But using age-appropriate, calming words can help them settle down and see why their behavior was wrong.
6 Offer Choices
If your toddler is beginning to get fussy when asked to do something, the issue is usually controlled – your toddler doesn’t want to feel forced into doing something. Parents suggests offering your child choices to help them feel more in charge of the situation.
For example, if you asked your toddler to help clean up their room, ask if they want to pick up toys or books first. You can also be more direct by asking whether they’d like to clean up the toys or take a break in their room.
5 Redirect Bad Behavior
Some young children act out because they’re bored or frustrated, which is why redirecting their focus can be an effective way to help a poorly behaved toddler. Healthy Children encourages parents to find something else for their children to do. Present them with a couple of options. Remember, your child may simply need a hug and a cuddle to feel better at the moment.
4 Get Them To Say Sorry
This may be a simple technique, but it works. If your child has done something wrong (especially directed at another person), encourage them to say sorry. You’ll need to have an age-appropriate conversation about what ‘sorry’ means and when we say it.
Your toddler may not fully understand the concept, but getting into the routine of apologizing after wrongdoing at a young age will be beneficial in the future.
3 Find A Way To Make Amends
Sometimes saying sorry isn’t enough. If you want to teach your toddler the power of righting a wrong, help them find a way to make amends. For instance, perhaps they hurt the feeling of a friend or sibling. Encourage them to create an ‘I’m sorry’ card – a parent can write the words, while the toddler decorates the card.
It’ll help your child see the value in doing something nice for others, especially when they’re in the wrong.
2 Set Boundaries & Expectations
An important step in rectifying your toddler’s bad behavior is to set boundaries and expectations. Get down to their level and talk to them in age-appropriate language. Tell them what’s expected of them, like they must listen to their parents and be kind to others.
Sometimes kids need to hear the same message several times to get it to stick. But remember to be firm and follow through. Don’t just say what the boundaries are; respond with a consequence if they’re not followed.
1 Supervise The Situation
Finally, Today’s Parents emphasizes the need for parents to supervise their toddler, especially if the child has been acting out. This allows you to intervene and redirect when your child exhibits questionable behavior. But it’s also a learning opportunity – you can point out and help guide your child in changing their behavior.
The more you supervise, the more you’ll be able to see why your child is getting irritable and intervene.
Sources: Parents, Healthy Children, Today’s Parents,