Here are a few simple toddler discipline strategies to help make life easier for both you and your child.
1: Be Consistent
Try to keep to the same schedule every day. That means having consistent nap times, mealtimes, and bedtimes, as well as times when your toddler is free to just run around and have fun.
Consistency is also important when it comes to discipline. When you say "no hitting" the first time your child smacks another child on the playground, you also need to say "no hitting" the second, third, and fourth times your child does it.
2: Avoid Stressful Situations
By the time children reach the toddler stage, you've spent enough time with them to know their triggers. The most common ones are hunger, sleepiness, and quick changes of venue. With a little advance planning, you can avoid these potential meltdown scenarios and keep things relatively calm.
Try to make sure your child is home at naptimes, bedtimes, and mealtimes.Keep excursions short (that means finding another restaurant if the one you've chosen has an hour-long wait, or doing your grocery shopping at times when the lines are shortest).
3: Think Like a Toddler
Toddlers aren't mini-adults. They have trouble understanding many of the things we take for granted, like how to follow directions and behave appropriately. Seeing the scenario from a toddler's perspective can help prevent a tantrum.
Giving choices also shows that you respect your toddler and recognize the child's feelings. Asking your child if he or she wants to bring a favorite book in the car, or take along a snack, can make the child feel as though he or she has some control over the situation while you remain in charge.
4: Practice the Art of Distraction
Make your toddler's short attention span work for you. When your child throws the ball against the dining room wall for the 10th time after you've said to stop, it's pretty easy to redirect your child to a more productive activity, like trading the ball for a favorite book or moving the game outside.
5: Give Your Child a Break
Time-outs are one of the foundations of child discipline, but they may not be the best approach for the toddler stage. The negative implication of being sent away can teach kids that they're bad, rather than promote good behavior.
If you do give your child a time-out, limit it to just a minute or two at this age. Instead of calling it a time-out, which can be confusing to children under 3, refer to it as something more positive.
6: Stay Calm
When you're standing in the middle of the mall, looking down at your child who's screaming on the floor, and trying to ignore the stares of the shoppers around you, it's easy for your blood pressure to reach the boiling point. It's hard to stay calm, but losing control will quickly escalate an already stressful situation.
7: Know When to Give In
Certain things in a toddler's life are nonnegotiable. She has to eat, brush her teeth, and ride in a car seat. She also has to take baths once in a while. Hitting and biting are never OK. But many other issues aren't worth the headache of an argument. Pick your battles.