One of the most important areas of parenting is discipline. It also happens to be one of the hardest parts for a lot of parents! We want our kids to grow up to be well-behaved, kind people, but we also don't want to stifle them or come down too hard on them. It's a balancing act, for sure. As your kids get older, it becomes a bit easier to discipline them, as they can understand and process why they're being disciplined, understand punishments, and correct their behavior. But when it comes to disciplining a toddler, it gets a little trickier! Our kids aren't born knowing how to behave or knowing proper social skills - we have to teach them from a young age. So how do you discipline your toddler? We have some tips and tricks that may help.
Toddlers respond well to consistency and routine, and it can have a big impact on their behavior. When their world is predictable, they feel safer and more secure, and it can help them remain calm and well-behaved. Keep the same daily routine with your toddler when it comes to meal times, nap times, and bed times. Prepare them for times when their routine will vary slightly, like if you'll be gone for bed time. Stay consistent with your discipline, as well. If you discipline them for something once, you need to discipline them for that thing every time.
If you have a toddler, then you know that they love to explore and are naturally curious little people! But their curiosity can get them into situations that threaten their safety or don't align with the rules. Try to eliminate as many temptations as possible - keep electronics out of reach, remove choking hazards, and keep medicines and chemicals stored safely.
Avoid Stressful Situations
You're probably aware of your toddler's triggers by this point - the things or situations that can cause them to meltdown or act out. Try to avoid these triggers as much as possible. Don't schedule activities around nap time, or delay meal times. Keep excursions short, and plan ahead so you're not rushing. Keep snacks on hand to avoid the dreaded hangry tantrum.
Think Like a Toddler
Toddler's brains don't work like ours! So expecting them to just understand and process things they way we do is not beneficial. Try looking at things from their perspective - you don't need to coddle their feelings, but it can really help to validate and acknowledge their feelings. It shows that you respect your toddler, and understand why they're upset or unhappy. If your toddler is protesting bath time, acknowledge that they don't want to take a bath, but reinforce and explain why they need to.
Timeouts can be an effective discipline tool, even when it comes to disciplining your toddler. They'll obviously look different than a timeout for an older child. But they're effective at redirecting your toddler, taking them out of the situation, and giving them a bit of time to calm down. Toddler timeouts should be one minute for each year of age in a quiet location (don't worry if they won't sit on a chair or stay in a corner just yet). The idea is to take them away from the situation, and take your attention away from them.
How to Avoid Temper Tantrums
Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to avoid tantrums completely with your toddler. But by sticking to a routine, staying consistent (with your routine and discipline), eliminating their triggers and temptation, and being respectful of their thoughts, feelings, and limits, you can definitely minimize them! Your toddler having a tantrum is not a reflection of you as a parent. And it's totally normal to feel stressed out and overwhelmed when they're having one! Make good use of timeouts and quiet time, for you both.