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Communication is an effective part of any relationship and that is exactly what a toddler is trying to do when they throw objects, scream in the middle of the grocery store, bite you on the shoulder or toss themselves into an absolute fit when it is time for bed. Parent friends might give advice on different toddler discipline strategies that worked for them. While others might say this is just a child misbehaving and it is just a phase they will grow out of…when they are 30! Children are designed to explore this giant world they are brought into and experiment with every single situation to see how their parents will react.
The job of the parent is to teach this curious little human what is right and what is wrong and boy can this be challenging. The definition of a good parent might look a little different for each family as does the strategies used when trying to manage their toddler’s behaviors. As with most other parenting responsibilities, working through what healthy toddler discipline strategies are going to work for your little one might take some time and lots of consistency. Toddler discipline is not a one size fits all so here are seven strategies to try and see what might work.
Healthy Toddler Discipline Strategies
1. Catch Them Acting Appropriately
On most days a toddler does a lot of innocent, novice, explorative things. Watching them discover the smell of a flower instead of pulling it off the stem, or how proud they are to climb the stairs at the park independently and even the simplest task of putting their sippy cup on their highchair tray instead of throwing it on the ground for the 10th time of the day.
These may all seem like simple things to an adult, but to a toddler, this is how they learn. Make sure to not only recognize those positive behaviors but also provide them with specific praise for behaving so well. As parents, working through different toddler discipline strategies is part of the process, AND so is letting them know when they have done something good and learned from past experience.
Most of the time it is very easy to spot a meltdown on the rise. The frustration with a toddler is to be expected and warranted on some occasions. Before letting that little one get into a full-blown temper tantrum, redirect their attention to some other activity or thing. Toddlers love to help, so get them involved with getting the leash out for the dog’s walk or helping pull the clean laundry out of the dryer. This not only distracts them but also gives them something to do. Toddlers get bored easily so redirecting attention and trying different activities can definitely help with their emotional meltdowns.
3. Set Expectations
Growing up is all about learning what is right and what is wrong. How are rules supposed to be followed if you don’t know what they are? Give your little one some basic rules to follow and make sure to be clear and concise on what happens if those rules are not followed. For example, “Our bath toys stay in the tub, throw them out again and they stay out for the rest of bathtime.” Be prepared to be firm because they will test this rule and you must follow-through keeping the toys out and not giving in a few minutes later.
4. Speak At A Toddler Level
Positive and effective parenting strategies of toddler discipline can be reached with calm words and actions. Even though at times raising your voice might be a reaction, it does not always work effectively and can backfire on you causing your little one to become more upset. Speak to your toddler in ways they can understand. Short, concise statements help them to get the point. Also, give them options. As your little one continues to experiment and explore, it is a great way to allow them to learn good choices. Just telling them “no” will just have them wanting it more.
Knowing when not to respond, is just as important as knowing when to respond. Often your toddler will misbehave just to get your attention and ignoring that mild misbehavior can be tricky. For example, your testing toddler might throw their milk on the ground at snack time or throw a toy at the dog who might be resting quietly. This is a great way to not only get your attention but also get a reaction out of you. Making a big deal about a situation only leaves your little one wanting to see more. Chances are, if you ignore the behavior and try redirecting or just letting it go all together, they won’t do it again.
6. Pick And Choose Battles
Be prepared they will test boundaries. Every day there will be something new they want to get into and try and knowing when to tell them “no” or when to let them explore and learn can at times be tricky to navigate. If they are not in harms way or doing anything dangerous help them to manage their activity and what they are trying out.
Helicopter parenting needs to go! There is no need to jump in and hover over them but instead be there as a bystander to reinforce their good behavior with a look of approval or disapproval when they glance at you before making their next move. There are also going to be scenarios where the situation naturally teaches your child a lesson and there will not need to be any commentary from you at all.
This is going to be key in order to help manage your little one’s behaviors. There will be days where your patience tank is on E and you might be so sick of saying the same thing over and over you can’t stand it, but that is such a helpful way for a toddler to learn. We all know repetition is key. Consistent responses to the same situations will help drive home the difference between right and wrong. Remember, your child watches your every move and occasionally letting them slide here and there will only confuse them on what should and should not be done. Help them out by demonstrating consistency with communication and behaviors.
Parenting a toddler is not an easy feat. There are always going to be good days, not so good days, and days when recapped parents see a lot of opportunities to do better. Welcome to raising a small human being. Knowing what toddler discipline strategies to try and testing which ones might work (or not) is going to be one of parenting’s biggest challenges. What works one day might not work the next so try out a couple different tactics making sure to practice patience and tapping out with your partner when needed. Go forth and conquer knowing every day, every situation, and every attitude is going to be different.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on How To Teach Generosity To Children.
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