What are appropriate disciplines for toddlers?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 @ 11:03 AM

Here are 10 things to consider when you are contemplating toddler discipline:

1. Discipline means “to teach”
The word discipline can have a negative connotation and can be associated with “punishment”. However, when you consider it as a synonym to teach, to train, or to coach, it takes on a more inclusive meaning for a parent. When you are disciplining your toddler, you are actually teaching and training to obey as well as coaching the child to be a respectable member of our society.

2. Say “no” when you mean it
It is vital to have power behind your “NO”. As an authority figure, you must stand firm when you respond with the negative reply “No”. If you retract your “No” or permit the behavior to continue the “No” loses its significance and paves the way for disrespectful children. Ensure the importance of “No” by being firm and consistent even if your child ignores, resists, or defies you. If necessary, physically remove the child from the activity if he does not follow your direction.

3. Say “yes” as often as possible
As much as it is important to say “no”, it is also vital to say “yes” to your child. If the request is reasonable and possible, grant it. The more your child is permitted to do safe, fun, and enriching tasks that they request, the more likely they will accept the necessary limits that get set.

4. Use distraction
Being creative and re-directing your toddler’s behavior will assure that he is not always hearing “No”. Toddlers are easily distracted by the next best thing. If you do not want a toddler climbing in the dishwasher while you are trying to load it, simply remove her from the kitchen and engage her with appropriate toys in another room. Play with her for a few minutes and then return to your kitchen clean up. Looking out the window with your toddler, engaging them in another toy, switching activities, reading a book or singing songs are all ways to re-direct a toddler to appropriate behavior.

5. Show the child the behavior you desire
Saying “stop that” to inappropriate behaviors is futile. Be proactive and demonstrate to your child exactly what behavior you want instead of constantly saying “Stop that. Engage your child in a conversation of the behavior you desire. Praise your child when they accomplish the behavior you were hoping to achieve.

6. Coach coping skills and problem solving skills
It is important for a toddler to develop frustration tolerance. Coaching a child how to cope is important for their development. This can include daily tasks of getting dressing, bathroom duties, waiting in line, eating at a restaurant, or riding in the car. Do not provide your toddler a cell phone or electronic device during these times. These devices are a stimulant and will not teach coping skills. Encourage your toddler to solve problems on their own by giving valid choices during stressful times so they soon will feel comfortable. Take breaks with your toddler when you observe them getting over-tired, over-stimulated, or overly frustrated with the situation.

7. “Use your words”
When your child is in a time of emotional distress, teach them how to communicate. When they can verbally express their needs, encourage them “use their words.” A child can learn that an adult responds positively to verbal communication and not to whining, crying or yelling. Teach to utilize emotion words like “Are you sad?” or “Are you angry?” Help them utilize words to express feelings and needs clearly.

8. Affirm positive behavior
Toddlers love pleasing the adults in their life. They love performing and accomplishing new tasks. Clap, smile, praise, hug, jump, dance, and sing with your child when they demonstrate positive or new behaviors. Affirm them verbally regarding development of good character like sharing, being polite and patient, showing kindness, listening well and apologizing.

9. Utilize strategies to “start” desirable behaviors
Kids have a natural tendency to want to compete and win. Timers can work very well for toddlers. “I am setting the timer and want the toys put away before it goes off.”
Anything you can do to make an activity fun will be better received by a toddler: encourage the activity you desire her to start by using songs, rhymes, or making it a game.
Do simple charts with a toddler. Put the days across the top, and down the side list the different tasks (no more than four things) the child will be working on. If the child completes the task, it is indicated with a sticker. Rewards for completing items on the chart can be a toy, a piece of candy, or a special meals. The best ideas are relatively small things that can be dished out frequently and in small pieces. They do not have to be costly.
Avoid some problems by allowing he world to teach the child what works and what does not. This would include being hungry (she refused to eat) or being cold (she refused to wear a coat).

10. Utilize strategies to “stop” unwanted behaviors:

Use a firm voice.
Be specific about which behavior is unwanted and needs to stop.
Utilize time-out as a negative consequence. Have a specific place, utilize a timer, and set time to be one minute for every year old. Re-start the timer for yelling or noncompliance.
Give a warning for a specific consequence if a behavior does not stop and utilize a “1,2,3” count before giving the consequence.
Use “If, then” plans with the toddler. “If you stop crying, we can go on a walk.” “If you sit nicely in the cart in the grocery store, we can ride the toy pony at the front of the store.” Follow through with the reward only if it is earned.
Provide choices for compliance versus disobedience. “You can choose to stop teasing your brother and continue playing; or, you can go to timeout if I hear you call him another name.”
Praise and affirm the desired behavior.