Toddler Discipline in Three Easy Steps!

Here’s something I wrote when my son was 13 months old.  Rereading it, I was surprised to realize that the basic structure of my response to misbehavior hasn’t changed at all now that he’s three years old; these basic steps have become second nature, while the details have gotten more complicated and wordy!

I feel there are three basic steps to handling objectionable toddler behavior, two of which are optional depending on the situation:

1. The firm objection. Optional; use if behavior needs to stop immediately.
Example: “OWWW!! Let go of my hair!!”

2. The redirection to a positive behavior.
Example: “Touch gently.”

3. The consequence. Optional; use if behavior is persistent or if consequence is unavoidable.
Example: “When you pull my hair, I don’t feel like holding you.”
Another example: “Because you broke the jar, you’ll have to stay in here alone while I go sweep up.”

The other big thing I’m working on is checking my urge to say no. Often things I think are going to be problematic are not if I give Nicholas a chance to show me what he’s actually going to do, which may be different from what I think he’s going to do. For example, I kept stopping him from grabbing the phone cord near where it attaches to the wall because I was afraid he’d yank it and damage the flimsy plastic thing that holds it in. When I finally let him handle it without interference, I found that what he wanted to do was to hold the slightly slack cord about 6 inches from the outlet and shake it up and down in a joyful manner.  That doesn’t hurt anything. The yanking I’d seen him do before was all caused by my attempts to make him let go!


About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

3 Responses to Toddler Discipline in Three Easy Steps!

  1. Pingback: How to Do Everything! « The Earthling's Handbook

  2. Pingback: Saying “No!” to Toddlers | The Earthling's Handbook

  3. Pingback: Starting Time Outs. Advice? - Mothering Forums

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