Just your kid “seems” too young to understand the consequences of his or her actions, it doesn’t make it okay to just let them off the hook for bad behaviour. Toddlers need to be taught how to act safely and appropriately, even when you’re not around. Freud referred to it as the superego. We call it working on installing a “good citizen” memory chip in the brain of your kid. Which will help them remember what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour. And just like breaking in a wild horse, it will take some work to discipline your toddler. But in general, there are a few commandments of toddler discipline.
Commandments for toddler discipline
1. Thou shalt expect rough times
Toddlers that have to transition from one activity to the next are known to exhibit questionable behaviour from time to time, which is why you have to preempt these situations. Give your child enough time to get ready for switching gears before and after an activity.
2. Thou shalt pick battles carefully
Saying no to everything and always denying your kid the little things in life will become a fruitless battle, so be sure to pick your battles wisely. Sit down and come up with a list of the core behaviours you don’t want your child to have, and then stick to your guns. Allow the small stuff to slide and focus on the more important, significant details instead.
3. Thou shalt keep statements short and sweet
When it comes to communicating with toddlers, you have to keep it as brief and clear as possible. “No hitting” instead of “please don’t hit your friend when you feel like you’re not getting what you want out of the situation” is much more effective.
4. Thou shalt introduce consequences
Kids have to learn that bad behaviour gets addressed with certain outcomes from their parents. In short, they need to learn about cause and effect. If your kid takes forever to take a bath and makes it hard for you to stick to the regular bedtime routine, have him go to bed without a book and a special song. It might just encourage him to hurry his sweet little but along next time to avoid disappointment again.
5. Thou shalt not avoid conflict by backing down
It’s no fun being a party pooper, but it’s also not okay to back down and let a situation slide just because you’re trying to avoid conflict with your kiddo. If you’ve decided that your toddler is not allowed to watch TV before bed, just stick to your guns and roll with the punches, regardless of the tantrums that might follow.