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10 Essential Parenting Tips on Disciplining Your Toddler

As a family life and child development expert, JP has devoted years in nurturing students and strengthening family relations.

So how do you discipline your toddler? I am product of copious spanking and I don’t want my daughter raised the same way. There are too many dark memories that still haunt me. However, parenting does not have to be complicated without the cursing, cussing and the physical violence. With the right mindset, you can enjoy a disciplined child minus the usual drama in the home.

The toddler stage is quite tricky. Their at a stage where they are no longer a baby but are still too young. Your child is now exploring his/her limits and is starting to gain independence. So expect to find yourself in peculiar situations. Have you ever found yourself face to face with a toddler testing your authority? I have and it can test your sanity.


1. Set the Rules

It takes more than just listing the rules down and having your toddler affix his hand print. That will not hold in court. Disciplining at this stage require laborious talking and explaining. And when you thought you've made your point clear, you'll be surprised at how differently they've understood your rules. Of course parents must choose words that are child-appropriate. Likewise, what seems logical to us may not be as obvious to our children.

Parenting tips:

  • Focus on the behavior and its consequences
  • Instead of highlighting the don’ts give emphasis on what is allowed
  • Share the logical reason for following the behavior. “Because I said” so is not one of them
  • Include your toddler in determining the consequences for not following the rules
  • Visual aids will help. But spare them the gory pictures of mutilated bodies for not holding on to adults while crossing.

2. Remind Your Child

Unlike adults, toddlers need to be reminder about the rules constantly. Of course, don’t be a nagging mom or dad. Rather, make them restate the rules.

Parenting tips:

  • Let your toddler say the rules using their own words. Don’t be too rigid with the legal technicalities if they don’t get it accurately.
  • Have them draw the rules and let them explain it. Sometimes what seem to be mere scribbles are actually their interpretations of what they know.

3. Role-Play Scenarios

Children love to do pretend play. You can utilize this play to inculcate discipline. Moreover, the use of their favorite toy, a reference to their favorite scenes in the movie or cartoon character can make the learning stick.

Parenting tips:

  • If you need to dress up do so. It’s play for them so get into the spirit.
  • Ask questions like if then questions so they can understand the rules better. More than just enumerating the rules, it’s important that they know why.
  • Make it really fun for them.

4. Be Consistent

Consistency in discipline is very important. This will not make it more confusing to the child. If you say something, then do it. If they find that you are not consistent with the way you enforce the rules, then they will constantly test their boundaries.

Parenting tips:

  • Both mom and dad should talk about the disciplining style and the rules.
  • If there are any conflicting ideas about the rules, the parents must first resolve it.
  • Both parents should be actively involved in disciplining the children.

5. Focus on the behavior

Many parents fail to address breaking the rules properly. Instead of focusing on the behavior, they automatically target the child “you are not good, you’re this and you’re that”. Moreover, learn what preceded the behavior. By knowing this, you can act appropriate when the same thing happens again.

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Parenting tips:

  • Be familiar with your child’s routines. When the parent learns the circumstances surrounding the behavior, it’s easier to discipline them.
  • Focus on the behavior. The parents must discuss why such behavior must be addressed.

6. Say No to Labeling and Profanity

What is good? What is bad? What is being naughty? What is being a son of a b*@#? Sometimes our emotions keep us from choosing the right words. As such, we resort to the simplest way to express ourselves – labels and for some, profanity. Remember, we want to notice what they child did and not throw around nouns and adjectives that will make our child feel bad.

Parenting tips:

  • Choose your words carefully
  • Focus on what the child did so expect to use lots of verbs
  • spirit.
  • Ask questions like if then questions so they can understand the rules better. More than just enumerating the rules, it’s important that they know why.
  • Make it really fun for them.

7. Never Embarrass Your Child

When disciplining your child, it is imperative that you do not embarrass them. Shouting and spanking in public is not proper. Even if you’re alone with your child, bombarding the little one with disparaging words simply is not a productive way to discipline. Rather, you simply build emotional turmoil in your child at a very early age. Moreover, children will equate disciplining with something negative rather than a learning experience.

Parenting tips:

  • Be encouraging rather than spiteful when disciplining your child.
  • Make the child realize the mistake in a non-threatening way.
  • Talk to the child calmly. Flaring out will just make it worse.

8. Patience is a Must

As a parent, instilling discipline is a continuous challenge. The task starts at a very young age and it does not really stop. Children test their limits; forget rules and sometimes, they just disobey for the fun of it. This requires patients and tons of understanding. Without patience, one can easily resort to Neanderthal means of discipline or drop dead because of an aneurysm.

Parenting tips:

  • Take turns. Parents should help each other with the disciplining tasks.
  • Relax, parents need to unload and recharge for the next disciplining sessions.
  • Understand the limitations of your child.

9. Never Compare

Every child behaves differently and this should never be forgotten by parents. It’s quite easy to compare one child with another.

Parenting tips:

  • Know what makes the child listen and follow. Every child has his/her own soft spot.
  • What may work for one may not necessarily work for another. Learn.
  • the rules better. More than just enumerating the rules, it’s important that they know why.
  • Make it really fun for them.

10. Listen to Your Toddler

Disciplining children requires that you listen to them. It’s not as simple as you imposing every rule and having your child shut up. A critical step in discipline is to understand your child. Allow them to express themselves so you can truly learn more about your child.

Parenting tip:

  • Let them explain themselves
  • Have them express how they feel. Let them put a handle on their emotions.
  • Encourage them to speak
  • Listen without interrupting them
  • Show them you really want to listen. So give your full attention when they speak.

Being a parent is wrought with numerous difficulties. Disciplining your toddler is one of the challenges. Remember that your child is no longer a baby, but is not yet a grown person. Moreover, every parent should understand that whatever is done at this stage will definitely make a mark on their future. So discipline you child in a way that build character and right attitude.

To effectively discipline toddlers, parents need to be disciplined themselves.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 JP Carlos


JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 20, 2014:

Hello csmiravite-blogs,

They are a bundle of joy. I will enjoy every moment of this. When they gow up I will surely miss these times.

Consolacion Miravite from Philippines on April 16, 2014:

I remember my kid at that age, standing atop a cart in the supermarket, and singing out loud her A-B-C's! When it rains, all her clothes are gone, and she runs around stomping on the water puddles while singing her hearts out! Now, she is grown and I miss that! Enjoy the moments even when she is handful. Time flies so fast. :)

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 16, 2014:

Hi there csmiravite-blogs ,

They do grow up so fast. i don't know what to do when the first suitors arrive at home. LOL Until then, I'm the only man in her life. I'll enjoy it.

Consolacion Miravite from Philippines on April 15, 2014:

She is such a cutie! A few years from now, you will have problems with suitors! Enjoy the kid while still young. Time flies so fast, that before you know it, she's grown. Mine did. She is a now a young woman of 22! :D

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 19, 2014:

Hello denise.w.anderson,

Thank for visiting the hub. The earlier we help them become disciplined the better. But the methods we choose to do this makes a huge difference.

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on March 19, 2014:

Excellent tips! It is what we do when children are young that molds and shapes their character for the later years!

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 16, 2014:

Hello there VioletteRose,

Being a parent has it difficulties and rewards. I'd like to focus on the rewards. :) My daughter is currently 2 years and 10 months. She's so adorable and a handful at the same time.

VioletteRose from Atlanta on March 16, 2014:

Thank you, this is really useful. I have two boys and my first one is now 4 years old. I heard about the terrible twos before, but that time it was ok for me. Since he turned 3, it has been challenging in many ways, but more fun too :)

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 13, 2014:

Hi there mecheshier,

My wife and I believe in making the learning experience fun and positive. It is easier for children to follow rules when they know what to do instead of simply giving them don'ts. Instead of "don't run", "walk slowly" is a better option. it's clear and direct. This way the child knows what to do.

JP Carlos (author) from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on March 13, 2014:

Hello DDE. Thank you for the vote of confidence when it comes to disciplining my daughter. My wife and I are winging it out and banking on our experiences with our background on child development. It's a challenging task but we manage to keep our sanity.

mecheshier on March 13, 2014:

Fabulous Hub! You make some very helpful and important tips, e.g. "Instead of highlighting the don’ts give emphasis on what is allowed". This tip. like many others is a great guide to good parenting. I am sure this post will help many.

Thank you.

Voted up

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 13, 2014:

Helpful tips indeed for disciplining toddlers sounds like you are doing a great job.

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