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Discipline may seem like a big word for a small child. But loving discipline teaches your toddler good behaviour.
Here are a few ideas you might try.
Family, other caregivers, and teachers may have different ideas on how and when to discipline a toddler. A plan helps everyone know what to do and what to say to help your child learn. Share your plan for discipline with everyone involved in your child's care.
"Effective parenting" classes are offered in most areas. You'll learn how to encourage your child's sense of responsibility, nurture self-esteem, and strengthen your parent-child relationship. Ask your doctor or call area schools for more information.
Setting limits helps your child have a sense of security. Make sure you're consistent as you set rules. This means that no matter how tired you are, the rules still apply. Example: Your family has decided that candy is off-limits. You're tired after a long day. You make a quick stop at the store. Your child starts screaming for candy. But you stay calm and firm even in the heat of the moment.
If your toddler only gets your attention when they're behaving in ways that are not okay, they may continue these behaviours because they need you to notice them. When you focus on your child's positive behaviour, you're likely to see more of it. Be specific, such as saying something like, "Thank you for putting away your toys. Now no one will trip or hurt themselves." This will have more effect than a simple "Good job!".
Think about what they’re trying to do, listen to their point of view and help them learn what to do next time. This is how they learn to treat you and others with respect.
When your child does something that is not okay, tell them what they did, why it's not okay, and what they can do next time instead. Let your child know that you accept their feelings, even if their behaviour is not okay. Know that your toddler won't remember things you've told them before. A toddler's brain is still forming connections in the thinking part of the brain. You may have to repeat what you say many, many times for those connections to get strong enough for them to remember.
Physical punishment such as spanking isn't a useful way to manage behaviour. It teaches a child that physical force is the way to resolve conflict. It can embarrass your child. And it can make your child resent and not trust you. Many years of research on physical punishment has shown that it has no positive outcomes for children.
Distract your child when they misbehave. If your child has trouble sharing a toy, show them another toy.
It's important to reassure your child that it's the behaviour that is not appropriate, not them. Catch your child being good, and encourage that behaviour.
Visit HealthyParentsHealthyChildren.ca for more information about discipline for your toddler.
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Adaptation Date: 3/2/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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