Behaviour & discipline

Discipling your toddler

A child’s toddler years are spent being curious about just about everything and this curiosity at times can lead to bad behaviour. But how are we supposed to discipline a small child? It can be hard enough to communicate the smallest things; how are parents expected to teach toddlers right from wrong?

The important thing is to be patient and give lots of praise when your toddler does the right thing. If you ask your toddler to stop doing something and it continues, it can be easier to distract a toddler with a new activity instead of repeating the word no.  Make sure your toddler understands the behaviour you expect. You may need to show your toddler many times before he/she understands. A small toddler is unable to understand punishment; the best way to deal with bad behaviour is by asking your toddler to stop and distracting him/her with something else. If your toddler continues their bad behaviour and is in an unsafe situation, pick your toddler up and remove them from the situation.

Praising the right behaviour is key to encouraging the right choices and best behaviour. Don’t be afraid to lose a few battles, but choose wisely. For example, don’t back down on safety issues like holding mammy or daddy’s hand when crossing the road, but it is ok to lose smaller battles like if your toddler wanted to wear wellies to a play date on a summers day.

Discipline is about guidance. Extreme punishment can lead to a child only remembering the punishment and forgetting the reason why they are being punished. Limits can be set from as early as six months. Establishing boundaries is how parents introduce their children to the realities of life and the world they live in.

Make discipline simple and clear, “no hitting” or “get down” are simple ways of communicating what you want your toddler to do. Limit your no’s to bad behaviour only or your child will begin to ignore your no’s altogether. So, if your child is doing something that is harmless enough like opening and closing a door say, ‘don’t do that you will catch your handies’ and distract your child with something else.

It’s important to be consistent. Your toddler will test you but stick to your rules, don’t allow exceptions at certain times or your toddler will be tempted to break the rules over and over. Your toddler will quickly realise that your rules have consequences he or she does not like.

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