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How do you discipline a toddler?

This question may be in your mind if you have a toddler. Toddlers may test limits and try to get what they want by throwing tantrums, crying, whining, or they may not follow directions even when they know how. So, how do you discipline a toddler when they are behaving in this way?

Know that it is natural for toddlers to test limits. They are beginning to attempt to have more independence and learning to explore the world around them on their own. They still need their parents, of course, but they are learning to have a bit more say in what happens and how they experience the world.

Discipline helps kids to stay safe, helps them to ultimately feel secure (by setting consistent limits and expectations), and also helps children to learn appropriate behaviors and self-management.

Discipline doesn’t have to be seen in a negative light. Discipline can include setting limits for your child by creating daily routines. This helps toddlers to have some structure and security in their lives.

Also, threatening toddlers with consequences for bad behavior that will happen later, such as “Clean up your toys or you won’t get ice cream this afternoon.” is probably not going to be very effective. Make discipline happen in the moment and, more importantly, making discipline more natural is more effective than non-related consequences.

For example, taking away a toy after the child threw it at his sibling is an appropriate and natural consequence whereas taking away a child’s dessert for throwing a toy at his sibling is not really a related or natural consequence.

Another useful technique is to focus on what you want your toddler to do rather than what you don’t want them to do. Being positive as much as possible and telling your toddler what to do is more effective than frequently saying things like “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” For example, say things like “Push the car on the track.” rather than “Don’t throw the car.” Of course, it’s okay to tell your child what they shouldn’t be doing, but just be sure that you are focusing much more on the positive side of things and telling your toddler what they should be doing instead.