This particular age group is known for endless energy, self-centredness, and stubbornness. Now, it’s not as though our ‘angels,’ particularly set out to be mean. Let’s just say they’re ‘testing their boundaries’ and are in the process of learning, by trial and error, social norms by which to relate in this vast world.
In our part of the world, most techniques for toddler discipline revolve around either or a combination of spanking, shouting, and threatening, in no particular order, and without guidelines, per se.
What variety of techniques or methods do we then use and what are the guidelines attached to each to help us properly adjust our style in order to get the results we seek?
4. Time Out: Again, this is a good technique for those times when you’ve had it “up to your chin” with your toddler, and you’re just about to lose control. You then separate the ‘warring parties,’ you and your toddler. Note that the separation for both parties to ‘cool off,’ is the main objective of this technique and is not necessarily punishment.
For this to work, you hold your child firmly, and matter of factly (rather than angrily), and lead him to his room, while you go away in the very opposite direction, way out of earshot, also employing the ‘selective deafness’ technique.
If for instance, he comes right out immediately, don’t fuss, just pick him up and just take him back in each time until he tires out and stays in. Ensure that you don’t lock the door, and that the handle is within your toddler’s reach for him to freely let himself out when he’s calm.
Chances are that he will not come out until he’s calmed down, and you are too. This works for indeed very many parents, but if you think it won’t work for you, by all means use either of the other techniques available to you. However, it sure is worth it to give the time-out a try before discarding it altogether. You may find that all you need is a slight modification to your own situation.
5. Take Immediate Action: Ensure that whenever you want to administer discipline to your toddler for defaulting, it must be immediate and not delayed. Don’t ‘wait till daddy comes home’ for instance, or your toddler would have long forgotten what the discipline is for, and won’t be able to connect the two, in order to amend his behaviour. It then becomes counter-productive and feels to him more like ‘abuse.’
Punishment for toddlers should always follow the bad behaviour immediately for the intended lesson to ‘sink in.’
6. Communication: Do not assume that your toddler knows right from wrong for every situation when you’ve not taken the time to communicate to him and instruct him on what to do and what not to do. The general rule here is where there is no law, there is no sin, hence no basis for punishment. First take your time to communicate your rules and what is expected of him.
Do note also that children learn by repetition so, by all means, say it repeatedly. With toddlers being known to have a very short attention span, your instructions should not be complicated. Let instructions be brief, clear (using pictures if possible), and easy to remember. Having done that, you will then be justified to take action when your toddler does not stick to the limits you have set for him.
7. The Firm, Cuddle Method: Here, after you’ve punished your toddler for behaving badly and he’s crying, you allow him to cry for a while, say 2 to 3 minutes, after which you can make up. You must explain again the reason for her punishment for her to fully understand.
Repeat the rules loud and clear, and if she’s learnt to say a few words, have her repeat your simple instruction. Once that is done, give her a make-up hug. The aim here is to let the child know that she is still loved, only that she has to learn to do the right thing.