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What is the best way to discipline a toddler? I hear so much about time-outs but do they really work? I would love a 'how-to' book on discipline.


Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Although it's difficult, try to place yourself in your toddler's shoes. Toddlers are enamored with being in control and independent. They get angry when an adult -- mom or dad -- thwarts their plans. They don't understand many of the words spoken to them -- and they're often at a loss for the right words to express their emotions. They need about 12 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period or their sleep-deprived body easily tires and then they get in trouble for tantruming or being cantankerous. Because of their rapid metabolism, toddlers have boundless energy so sitting still is nearly impossible, or at least torturous. And they do get hungry more often than adults, so provide small snacks throughout the day. They thrive on routine and like their days to be comfortably predictable. Remember discipline is about teaching. Adopt an attitude of being your child's first and most important educator. When you correct your tot, be instructive and patient. Don't assume, "You should know better!" Until you find that perfect "how-to" book on discipline, you can subscribe for free discipline tips at
Posted On 2008-07-30 15:54:49
Janet Price Replied: Your question is quite timely, as you parent your toddler. This time in a young person's life is all about learning what is theirs and what is not, what they have power over and what they do not, and at the same time needing assurance that they are safe and loved in the midst of exploring their ever-expanding world. Discipline for toddlers is more about guidance than punishment. Starting to build that language between the two of you is essential. Telling your toddler "no hitting" or "use gentle touch" is fine, but do not expect your toddler to necessarily understand and respond. You can say the words yopu want them to eventually understand, as simply as possible, and then re-direct them. That can include physcially removing them from the situation that is encouraging the undesired behavior and placing them in another part of the room where there are new toys or activities that are more appropriate. Toddlers have a short memory and can easily become refocused on a new activity and forget what you took them away from. The bottom line is that toddlers need our attention and interaction. They have not developed enough internal controls to respond to what you tell trhem to do independently, even if they understand what you are asking of them, which can be uncertain at the beginning of this process. And remember, you two will learn together how to have positive experiences and interactions as you honor what your toddler is trying to learn about in the context of a safe and loving home!
Posted On 2008-03-20 17:52:48
Deborah Maragopoulos Replied: I am an advocate for "time out". As a Mom of a gregarious, willful, temper-tantrum prone toddler, I needed "time out" many times! Instead of it being a punishment, the time out place became a refuge. My daughter had a little rocking chair in the corner by the fireplace (where she could see everything) with her favorite comforting thingsā€”a ragdoll, a blanket, a story book. My son preferred a tent made up of an old sheet for time out with a basket of books and a book light. I would sit on my bed, practice deep breathing, and recite positive affirmations ("I am a great mom, doing the best I can and learning patience every day!"). When I felt calmer, I would ask my toddler if she was ready to join me in the next activity. We all learned to use time out as a means to defuse, think about our behaviors and then offer an apologetic hug to those we offended. Toddlers are tricky. Practicing their independence at great risk for your sanity! Even at this early age, you can teach consequences of behaviors. Cause and effect are the best teachers. Of course, you cannot let your toddler figure out the effect of running in the street. In the face of danger, I advocate swift, decisive imprinting. Your job is to protect your child. The only time, I have used physical force and my loudest voice is when my toddler tried to dart in the street. She never tried it again.
Posted On 2008-03-19 18:27:03
Aileen McCabe-Maucher Replied: Disciplining a toddler can be challenging experience, but is an essential part of being an effective parent. As both a professional psychotherapist and mother to a toddler, I like to think of discipline as a form of teaching rather than a form of discipline. The first rule of thumb is to keep yourself feeling as grounded and loving as possible. Learning to manage your own stress through exercise, meditation, or "me time" is vital during your child's toddler years. Making sure that your own needs are met will make you a better parent and a happier human being. It is crucial to discipline a child out of love rather than anger. Hitting a child will only teach that child that violence is a way to assert power ad control. I find that praising good behavior often prevents unwanted behaviors. Try to catch your child "doing things right" as often as possible. Setting boundaries with your child a vital part of helping them learn and feel safe in their world. Ignoring unwanted behavior is a highly effective form of discipline. Keep in mind that discipline varies across your child's developmental abilities. Time outs can be an effective form of discipline beginning around age two, or depending on your child's ability to communicate and understand verbal language. WHen your child is exhibiting an unwanted behavior, issue the child two verbal warnings. If your child exhibits the unwanted beahvior after two warnings call a "time out". I recommned desigating a particualt spot in yout home for a time out such as a "time out bench. or "time out rug"" Remove your chid for the situation, breifly explain the reason for the time out and direct or place them on the time out bench or rug. When the time out is over ask your child to aplogize and offer a hug or kiss. Kepp your language simple and direct. When the chils is in time our do not engage with your child in any way. Remove all of your attention from the child. I recommend giving your child one minute in time out for each year of life. For example a two year old should be in time out for two minutes, a three year old for three minutes. Toddlers are hard wired to test boundaries and limits. And you, as the parent, are here to love. Protect and nurture them. This is a great question and shows you are committed to being a great parent.
Posted On 2008-03-16 21:24:54
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