How to Discipline a Toddler: Strategies That Work


Being a parent is already hard as it is. You love your child and don’t want to see them crying or hurting, but there are times when you need to discipline your kid. In this blog, we’ll learn different healthy ways you can set limits and manage bad behavior in toddlers. 

Why is disciplining a toddler difficult?

Throwing tantrums, not listening, and talking back are some examples of toddler troubles parents may come across. Understand that this isn’t your kid being disrespectful or a personal attack on you.

Think about it this way. Your child is still a little kid who’s grappling with emotions and thoughts too complex to express at their age. 

Seeing your kid lash out or break things may get frustrating at times but remember that there are healthy ways you can discipline them and achieve mutual understanding. 

What not to do as a parent

When the time comes to discipline your child, there are some things you should avoid doing. Here are some parental don’ts: 

Be afraid of disciplining: As a parent, you are your child’s primary role model and person of authority. It is essential to have confidence and the voice to correct your kid. Disciplining fails when parents shy away from disciplining their children. 

Parents may also fear being the bad guy in their kid’s eyes. They may also feel like their toddlers won’t even listen to them, so why bother?

Excuse your child’s bad behavior: Do not excuse your child’s misbehavior. You should not condone unruly behavior. If you don’t point out wrong actions, your child will learn that they are okay. 

There is the belief that “kids will be kids,” but as a parent, you should learn how to teach your kid that some things are not nice and may hurt others. 

Use fear and aggression: According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, corporal punishment is not an “effective strategy and has other long-term negative outcomes.” Physical discipline and using shameful and demeaning language have harmful and long-lasting consequences. 

Using aggression to discipline may hurt your relationship with your kid. He may even become aggressive to his peers and his future family.

Healthy strategies to discipline your toddler that work:

As a parent, it is essential to deal with your toddler with a lot of patience. You should also realize that your kid is still just a kid. The way your child thinks is entirely different from you. Practice discipline methods that promote positive learning and growth.

Prevent the situation from being stressful: As a parent, you already know the patterns and situations that can trigger your child’s reaction. Don’t bring them outside if you know they haven’t had their nap time or make them wait when they haven’t eaten yet.

By placing those items far from their reach, you can also prevent things from happening, such as your kid losing your jewelry or breaking plates. This way, you help both of you avoid unruly scenarios.

You have to be consistent as a parent: A steady pattern in your child’s daily life gives him a sense of security and familiarity. Random changes to the everyday routine can make your toddler feel overwhelmed. 

It is easier to have your kid follow meals, bedtime, and other activities if they are consistent. For example, you can tell your kid what time school starts and ends each day!

When it comes to correcting your child, consistency is needed to instill discipline. If your child does something terrible such as breaking things around him, say “don’t do that” every time it happens. 

Understand your child more: If your child begins screaming, melting down, or grumping in anger, don’t be mad. Try to understand where your toddler is coming from instead. Ask your kid what is making him feel angry or sad. Doing this helps validate and make him feel heard. This way, you get to understand your child and help him find ways to express challenging emotions.

Be a good role model for your child: Your child will learn what he sees and hears in the house. Teach them what is right and wrong. Use calm words and talk to them in a way that they can understand. 

Make sure that you also lead as an example that they can follow. Children will copy behavior that they see in you. 

Give them attention and praise them for being good: Children need a lot of attention at a young age. It makes them heard and helps them feel connected with you. Giving them the proper amount of attention enables you to reinforce good behavior and discourage the bad ones.

You should also praise your kid for being good or doing good things. This helps reinforce those behaviors and boosts his. Praise also gives him a healthier and more positive view of his self-confidence.

Be calm when talking or correcting your toddler: Children are very sensitive to your emotions too. The way you speak to them influences their reaction. For example, if he did something bad or is melting down, approach and talk to him calmly and softly. If you use a loud, angry voice, your child will react to this negatively. This would escalate the situation between the both of you.  

Give your toddler the freedom to choose: Children, especially toddlers, don’t like being told what to do. Your kid may be acting up because he feels like he doesn’t have any control. He wants it back. 

What you can do is offer him choices instead of telling him what to do. For example, would he rather go shower or eat breakfast first? A limited set of choices allows you to get things done with your toddler and make him feel empowered at the same time. 

Have clear consequences for bad behavior: When disciplining toddlers, make sure that you communicate the consequences of bad behavior to them. Talk to your child about having clear and consistent rules that he can follow.  

Calmly explain the consequences and make sure to follow through with them. For example, if your kid does not clean his room and pick up his toys, tell him that he will not be allowed to play with them until a given time. 

Put your toddler on a time-out when needed: If your kid doesn’t respond to your correction and “no’s,” you can put him on time-out. For example, if he is doing something bad, tell him that you will count down to three. If he does not budge, put him in a “time-out” space where he will have to stay. After his punishment, explain to him that he shouldn’t do it again or ask him to apologize. 

Time-out takes him away from the situation and gives him the chance to reflect and have a breather. Explain all this in a clear and stern voice. Make sure that what he did was not right and that you are not angry. 

If you want to learn how you can raise your child, check out Rayito de Sol’s blog for more information.

October 28, 2021