Finding ways to discipline a toddler can be challenging. Toddlers are sensitive creatures. They start off their journeys with very little social skills and no idea what they are doing. They are basically a little tornado of emotion that is ready to tear down your world in a single bad decision of giving them the wrong coloured cup at lunch time. In this post I am going to be giving some advice on how to discipline a toddler, without mentally scarring them for life.
How To Discipline A Toddler
What’s important to bare in mind when disciplinig a toddler is that every action, and every word that comes out of your mouth will have a huge impact on your child. Even down to the tone of your voice and the body language that you use. Children pick up on everything! They don’t miss a trick. So it’s vital that you can find the right balance of being authorititive but also nurturting. Disciplining a child isn’t about finding the best way to shout at a child. It’s about finding the best way to teach them what’s right and wrong. A way of helping them grow.
When To Take Action
One of the most common mistakes that some parents make, is intervening too early. Sometimes it’s human nature to quickly stop a child from doing something that looks slightly risky. But before you do this, ask yourself, are they actually in danger? What is the reason I’m stopping them? Is it because it’s wrong, or because I just don’t want them to do it? Children like to explore and investigate. Stopping them from doing so can potentially restrict them from gaining valuable life skills and experiences. The next time your child climbs up on something, or gets a little too messy, just let them. See what they can learn.
How you present yourself to a child makes all the difference. Imagine you are a small child, and you have just thrown the biggest tantrum ever. Your emotions are completely all over the show and you have no idea what’s happening right now. All that you know is that you don’t like the way you are feeling and you want it to stop. Now imagine feeling that way, and then a fully grown human towering over you, wagging a finger at you demanding that you stop. Quite scary if you ask me.
The best way to tackle the situation is to get down onto the child’s level. Look them in the eye when you are talking to them. If a toddler feels threatened or intimidated, you’ll have a fun job trying to calm them down. Which brings me onto my next point.
Keep It Calm
Stay calm and don’t shout at them. This is easier said than done I know. Every parent has shouted, even the best ones. When you’ve had very little sleep and emotions are running high, sometimes you can’t help it. The best way to communicate with your child is to use a calm voice that they can understand. Rather than shouting, just change the tone of your voice. Use that stern voice that I’m sure our own parents used to use. You can be authoritative without having to raise your voice.
Use Short Sentences
Keep your instructions very short and basic. An emotionally unstable child will not give you the slightest bit of notice if you start rambling on. Keep it simple, by saying things like “no hitting”. It’s short and sweet and your child will know exactly what you are trying to say to them. Too many words will confuse them and they will just switch off.
Don’t Ever Smack!
This is something that I am quite passionate about. Smacking a child is a definite no from me. I know that the older generation have a different perspective. I’ve had many parents tell me that “it didn’t do me any harm when I was younger”. Although this is true, I believe that parenting has changed over the last few decades, and smacking just isn’t socially acceptable anymore. Also, what exactly are we teaching children? That smacking someone is the correct way to get them to do what you want. It’s negative behaviour to cause harm to others, so why do we do it?
This is a topic that I could into great lengths about, which requires it’s own post on my blog. Therefore, for now I will just empathise that smacking a child is a no from me. There isn’t a problem that can’t be solved using verbal communication.
However you decide to discipline your toddler, make sure you stick to it! Be consistent and let your child know exactly what you expect from them. Telling them off for doing something one day, and then letting them get away with it the next will just confuse them. Be strong, even when you really don’t feel up to it.
Lots of Praise!
Children love to be praised. They are constantly after our approval. Make sure you are acknowledging their good behaviour as well as their negative. Empathise the rewards of behaving in a positive manner.
So to recap…think about whether you really need to intervene. If you do, get down onto their level, keep yourself calm, and use clear and simple instructions. Sounds easy enough doesn’t it? I’m under no illusions that discipling a toddler is far from easy. Toddlers are extremely complex, and you never find two the same. Therefore, be prepared to find out that my tips may not work for your child. This is just what I have found works for me.
For a slightly more professional outlook on the topic, then check out this link.
If you are currently going through the terrible twos and would like some advice on this, I’ve also written a short guide on that subject too.