Too Young to Discipline?
When your 1-year-old screams for candy or throws food out of your cart at the grocery store, it’s hard to know how to deal with her misbehaving. After all, a child this age is still too young to be disciplined, right? Not quite.
While tactics like time-outs or taking away privileges don’t work well on toddlers, this is actually a good time to introduce your child to the concept of right and wrong.
You can set your toddler on the path to good behavior with these 8 simple strategies:
#1 Have more do’s than don’ts
It’s far more effective to tell your toddler what he should do than to say what he shouldn’t do. It’s no fun being constantly told: “Don’t do this! Don’t do that!” No wonder he’s always moody and uncooperative.
For example, instead of telling him “Don’t leave your toys all over the floor”, rephrase it as “Do keep all your toys tidy in the toy box when you have finished”. Rules expressed positively creates a relaxed atmosphere at home.
#2 Praise good behaviour
When your little one has been especially helpful or obedient, show your delight. Let him see you praise him in front of others, too. Perhaps you can make an announcement about this when his grandparents visit, or maybe you can call your friend so that your child hears you tell how well he has behaved that day.
#3 Use a range of rewards
Every toddler is different, and what works for your elder kid may not have the same effect with your two-year-old. But you’ll soon get to know which incentives are most effective on him for reinforcing good behaviour. Try to have a range of rewards, such as praise, hugs, treats, games and outings.
#4 Get a sticker chart
Some young children respond well to this. For instance, you can have a chart by his bed and put a special sticker on it every time he tries to wear his pyjamas by himself. He’ll be very excited whenever he receives a new sticker.
#5 Be flexible at times
Breaking the rules occasionally – just for fun or on a special occasion – can emphasise the importance of rules.
For example, letting him delay bedtime for a few minutes on his birthday – as a special treat – teaches him fl exibility, and helps reinforce the notion that the rules should be kept all other days.
#6 Explain the benefits
Your mini-me will develop a more positive attitude to rules once he realises that he benefits from them as well. For instance, tell him that the rule “Share your toys with others” doesn’t just mean that he has to let others play with his belongings; it also means they have to let him enjoy theirs, too.
#7 Follow rules together
It’s more fun when the whole family keeps a rule together than when he thinks he’s the only one who has to follow it. For instance, you can say: “Let’s tidy up together. I’ll put the books away on the shelves if you put the toys in the cupboard.” Sharing makes the task enjoyable.
#8 Give cuddles spontaneously
Of course you hug him when he specifically follows a rule without being prompted by you, but you can also give him a big cuddle for his good attitude in general. For instance, you can say: “You’ve been such a good boy this week; you’ve made me very happy.”