It’s a common scenario. Your two-year-old is playing quietly at a play date when she suddenly screams and pushes another child to the ground because he wanted her toy.
Aggression and temper tantrums are a normal part of every toddler’s development, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK. It might be tempting to yell and scream along with them, but more practical ways of discipline will help calm them (and you) down.
The next time your toddler acts out, try these positive disciplining strategies:
Redirect – If your toddler is upset that another child is playing with her toy, for example, redirect her to another toy or activity. Redirecting is a great way to distract young kids from the situation that’s upsetting them, and diffuse unacceptable behaviour.
Give Clear and Consistent Consequences – Have a list of appropriate consequences ready to use when your child misbehaves, and use them every time. For example, if she purposefully throws a glass of juice on the floor, have her help you clean it up.
Give a Time-Out – Sometimes kids just need time to calm down, and a time-out is a great way to do this. Keep the time-out brief, around one minute per year of age, and in a quiet area. When the time-out is done, and your toddler has calmed down, explain why her behaviour warranted a time-out and then move on to a new activity.
Give Attention to Good Behaviour Only – Ignore minor misbehaviour such as tantrums (as long as she’s not hurting herself) and reward her for good behaviour like when she cleans up her toys.
Praise – Praise is encouraging and can help kids feel good about themselves which helps their behaviour. So be sure to praise the appropriate behaviour when it happens. Ensure your praise is genuine and specific so your child can learn why she is getting positive attention.
Skip Bribes – It can be tempting to calm your toddler down with promises of games and ice cream, but doing this too often can backfire! It’s understandable that sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, but keep it to a minimum so your toddler doesn’t act “bad” just so she can get something good.
Rephrase – If “don’t”, “no” and “stop” are words you find yourself using often, you might be wasting your breath. Kids learn positive behaviour best when they are taught lessons with guidance rather than commandments. Try instead to explain why the behaviour is unacceptable and suggest alternative ways to react.
Be a Role Model – Kids are always observing how their parents react to different situations. The way you behave will set the standard for your toddler’s behaviour so be an exemplary role model by showing her how you share with others and deal with stress in a healthy way.
Disciplining is one of the most challenging parts of being a parent, but is necessary to raise well-rounded kids. For more information on positive disciplining strategies, visit the Canadian Paediatrics Society.