Every mother will find it difficult to deal with disciplining her child. It is one of the toughest and most frustrating tasks of parenting and never ending test of wills between you and your child.
What exactly does it mean to "discipline" a toddler? Some people think it is connected only with spanking and punishment, but that is definitely not what we are talking about. Discipline is about setting rules to stop your little one from engaging in behavior that is aggressive, dangerous and inappropriate. It is also about following through with consequences when he breaks the rules. Here are few ways to help you to discipline your toddler.
- Avoid battles
If you are always saying “No”, your child will tune out the “No” and will not understand your priorities. Define what is important to you, set limits and follow through with appropriate consequences. Do not be so sensitive about little things that are annoying but otherwise are in the category which does not matter too much. Like the habits your child is likely to outgrow, such as insisting on wearing blue and only blue.
- Know Your Child's Triggers
Some misbehavior is preventable, as long as you can anticipate what will spark it and you create a game plan in advance, such as removing tangible temptations. Sometimes for a toddler doing something silly is so fun, so it is much easier to take it out of his way than to fight about it. If your 2-year-old does not share her stuffed animals during playdates at home, remove them from the designated play area before her friend arrives. And if your toddler likes to draw on the walls, do not let him color without supervision. Also, some children act out when they are hungry, overtired. So just make sure your child eats healthy snacks, gets enough sleep, and plays outside to burn off energy.
- Be Consistent
Between the ages of 2 and 3, children are trying hard to understand how their behavior influences the people around them. If your reaction to a situation keeps changing, like one day you let your son run around the house and leave toys on the ground and the next one you do not, you will confuse him with mixed signals. There is no timetable to how many incidents and reprimands it will take before your child stops to misbehave. But if you always respond the same way, he will probably learn his lesson after few times. Also a small advice – by age 2 or 3, many kids learn how to make their parents lose resolve just by being cute. Do not let your child's tactics sway you and it does not matter how cute or smart they are.
- No emotions
I agree, it is hard to stay calm when your toddler refuses to brush his teeth for the 15th night in a row. But if you scream in anger, the message you are trying to send will get lost and the situation will get worse fast. When a child is flooded with a parent’s negative mood, he will see the emotion and will not hear what he is saying. Indeed, an angry reaction will only enhance the entertainment value for your child, so resist the urge to raise your voice. Take a deep breath and get down to your child's eye level. Be fast and firm, serious and stern when you deliver the reproof.
- Short and Simple
If you tend to reason with your child when he breaks the rules, offer detailed explanations about what he did wrong and state detailed threats about the privileges he will lose if he does not stop misbehaving. But as a discipline strategy, overtalking is as ineffective as becoming overly emotional. Instead of it, speak in short phrases, repeating them a few times.
- Give it a break
If repeated reprimands, redirection and loss of privileges have not cured your child of his offending behavior, consider putting him in time-out for a minute per year of age. This is an excellent discipline tool for kids. Before imposing a time-out, put a serious look on your face and give a warning in a stern tone of voice. If he does not listen, take her to the quiet and safe place you have designated for breaks and set a timer. When it goes off, ask her to apologize and give him a big hug to show that you are not angry. Toddlers do not like to be separated from their parents and toys.
No matter how disappointed you feel about your child's misbehavior, do not talk about it in front of him. When children hear their parents speak about them in a hopeless or negative way, they will not have a good image of you as their boss, and they will end up repeating the behavior.
If you have any ideas yourself, use them. Every child is different, so there are many ways to help your children understand what is wrong and what is good. Best of luck!