Discipline & Punishment for Toddlers

by Erica Loop, Demand Media
    You need to address challenging toddler behaviors.

    You need to address challenging toddler behaviors.

    While most parents would like to think that their child is a little angel, sometimes moms and dads have to use discipline or punishment. Toddlers simply don't have the same sense of etiquette, or even somewhat appropriate behavior, that an older child or adult has. Instead of stressing about tantrums, biting and other toddler antics, explore more positive ways of discipline.

    Simple Words

    A 20-minute long diatribe on the reasons why hitting is not OK will be lost on a toddler -- that is if you can hold his attention for that long. Instead, when disciplining a toddler, use simple words that you know he understands. For example, HealthyChildren.org suggests that parents use a basic phrase such as, "Don't hit" to stop a physical altercation. This type of verbal discipline also works in other situations such as "Don't bite" or "Don't push."

    Using Gestures

    Gestures or gently physical guiding is an effective way to provide discipline to a toddler during a challenging time. This technique is easily used in conjunction with simple words -- "don't hit" -- to increase the likelihood that your toddler will stop the offensive behavior. Make a hand motion such as the traditional wag of a finger when saying no or put a hand up to show that you want her to stop. Another option is to gently move her hand away after a physical act such as hitting or shoving.

    The Time-out

    The time-out is one of the most well-known forms of child discipline. Typically, parents should use one minute per each year of the child's age. For example, your 2-year-old can have a two-minute time-out. Choose a special time-out spot, ensuring it's away from anything of interest such as toys or the TV.

    Unacceptable Forms of Punishment

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 740,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms yearly for abuse-related injuries. Although you can't just let your toddler go nuts doing whatever he wants, abuse or physical violence of any sort is an unacceptable form of punishment. Grabbing, slapping, pushing, pulling, shoving and other aggressive physical punishments only hurt a toddler. Parenting is stressful, but taking it out on a toddler just because she is throwing a tantrum is a crime.

    About the Author

    Erica Loop is an arts educator and freelance writer. She has been freelancing since 2010 and writes mostly child development and kids' activity articles for websites such as education.com. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.

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