Disciplining the Strong Willed Toddler

It can be difficult to discipline any child, but disciplining a strong-willed toddler is even more of a challenge. A variety of techniques can help you get the behavior you want in a way that is least painless for you and your child. Consider the following techniques.

Positive reinforcement

Some call it bribery, but it does not have to be about giving your child a piece of candy every time he or she does something right. Instead of punishing the child for what he or she did wrong, reward him or her for what is done right. Make a behavior chart and give the toddler stickers for doing well. Heap lots of praise on the child when he or she does something right. Let him or her earn points toward a prize.


Web MD highly recommends consistency when dealing with your strong-willed toddler. Let him or her understand that if he or she doesn’t follow the rules, you will make sure there are consequences. Even toddlers will learn if you do not enforce your own rules. They will continue the behavior because there are no consequences.

Avoid stress

You can avoid the need to discipline your child in many cases. For instance, if your toddler becomes unmanageable after sugar, then limit his or her consumption of sweets. Make sure that he or she gets enough sleep and food. Distract the child if things start to get bad. You can also bring distractions to places where the child might misbehave, such as bringing a book or snack when grocery shopping.

Time Outs

Time outs can be an excellent way to discipline your child. You can make a time out chair. Generally, they say a minute per age of the child (i.e. 2 minutes for a 2 year old). You can also let the child express his or her feelings by talking about the problem, or even drawing a picture of how he or she is feeling. Explain that you understand, but that the behavior is unacceptable.

What not to do

There are just as many don’ts when it comes to toddler discipline as dos. Most studies recommend not spanking the child. This is especially important for a strong-willed toddler who might learn that hitting is an appropriate way to deal with the situation. Take steps to stay calm yourself and deal with the situation in a rational manner.

With the right discipline techniques, you can effectively manage your toddler’s behavior. Try different strategies until you find the right one for your family.