Combating Bad Behavior in Toddlers

By the time your child is a toddler, you should have instigated at least one discipline method and it is this that you can build upon as your toddler becomes of an age where he will try you to the extreme.

But I haven’t disciplined my child before, you may gasp. Of course you have. At some stage you set the rules and your child took notice.

Did you take your baby away from the breast or bottle when he had had too much?

Did you change and clean your child when they had messed their diaper, even though they kicked and cried?

Did you strap your child into a car safety seat even though they screamed and screamed?

Yes, of course you did at least one of these and it is this inner strength that you can draw on when it comes to combating bad behavior in your toddler. This discipline will be initiated by your strength as a mother, father or main carer.

Start by telling your toddler not to do whatever he is doing as it is wrong. Warn him once more. If he does it again, punish him.

Set your punishment. It doesn’t have to be a physical or hurtful punishment. Time out is the most advantageous punishment. For a toddler, who will need to see you, a step or a space in the hall that is dedicated to be the punishment space, will be best.

Once your time out space has been set, take your toddler there for his punishment. Let him sit for one minute for each year of his age and explain:
Why he has been given time out.
That he should think about what he has done.
Why it was wrong.
How he should not do it again.
That he should be prepared to say sorry.

Match the punishment to each individual child. If your toddler is defiant, give him an easy way to finish the punishment, don’t demand an apology. Let him walk away from time out once he has understood why he was put there, as long as he agrees to sit quietly for a while instead.
When you threaten, always, always, carry out your threat. Don’t threaten something that you cannot carry out.
Do not increase the length of time you sit your toddler in the time out space. Always finish one punishment first and add another, for a different act, if you feel you need to.

For the punishment to work, you must concentrate on the positive and reward, reward, reward. The rewards can be simple, a cuddle, a kiss, or specific praise.

Once you have set up a punishment and reward regime, share it with the other adults who may be involved with your toddler’s care so that you can all stick to it.

This is the foundation that will teach your toddler right from wrong and is what they will carry with them forever. Obviously as your child grows, the punishment will change but it will fundamentally be what they will use to set their own disciplines.

Most of all make sure that all of your children knows they are loved. And that you are only punishing them for their own good.