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12 Safe Way to Discipline a Toddler


How To Discipline A Toddler

How do you effectively discipline a toddler? Gone are the days where spanking is an acceptable form of correction, but other methods can get their attention and teach them a lesson. Parents that stand by and do nothing will learn that they soon have a “little monster” on their hands. It’s essential to instruct and educate how they should behave on a level that they can comprehend. Here are some things to consider for those who wonder how to discipline a toddler.

12 Toddler Discipline Tips

1. Never Yell at A Child

If you really want to get your child’s attention, then you need to learn to whisper rather than yell. When you yell, you are putting them in defense mode. Sometimes, the most effective forms of punishment are the ones where you look them right in the eye and speak in hushed tones.

Remember, it’s not the volume you use but the tone of your voice that they will respond to. Most kids expect you to yell. However, when you are speaking quietly, they must stop talking and listen carefully to hear what you have to say. If you wonder how to discipline a toddler, then you need to adjust your tone.

2. Remember, They Are Not an Adult

Learning how to discipline a toddler can be challenging, but remember they are not adults. They don’t have the deductive reasoning skills that you do. They are going to touch the stove because they don’t know that it’s unsafe. They will walk in front of a car or bite someone because their brain hasn’t made the connection between right and wrong. You must educate them that the behavior they are engaging in is dangerous. Don’t just assume that they should already know what’s good and bad as that is your job to teach them.

3. Time Out Is Your Friend

Time out is a great way to discipline your child from a toddler clear through to the early school years. Have a dedicated spot that they sit in when they have been naughty. Don’t make them sit for extended periods as it will lose its effectiveness. Rule of thumb is to give one minute for each year of age. Learning how to discipline a toddler with time out may take practice. It’s going to be hard to get them to sit in the naughty chair, and they may kick, scream, and throw a temper tantrum. However, no matter how many times they get up, put them right back in the chair. Keep reminding them of the wrong choice they made and why they are taking a break.

4. Avoid Spanking or Hitting

Spanking or hitting on the bum or hand may seem like a great way to get their attention. One thing you will learn in your journey of how to discipline a toddler is that if you show violence, then they feel it’s okay. Children who are spanked may hit, bite, pinch, or do other acts of violence towards their parents. Some say that spanking a child is an adult having a temper tantrum due to the stress of the moment, but these are things you learn as you gain knowledge on how to discipline a toddler. Count to five and use another method of discipline.

5. Always Use Love

Your child needs to know that you are by their side no matter what they have done. One of the reasons why screaming and yelling is not okay is because it brings out a side of you that they are not comfortable with seeing. Reinforce your decisions with love. In the journey on how to discipline a toddler, you always use love as the basis. Say something like “mommy loves you and doesn’t want you to get burnt by the stove, so I need to put you in time out to teach you a lesson.” They will respond better to discipline done in love rather than in anger.

6. Never Use Bribery

Bribery is one of the worst things you can use when you are learning how to discipline a toddler. Never tell your child that if they stop doing a specific behavior that you will buy them a truck or dolly. If you start it when they are young, then you can expect to be bribing them through their teenage years to get them to behave. Unless you want a child, who learns how to manipulate the system with your permission, never bribe them. They should respect your authority without money or gifts.

7. Pick Your Battles

If you were to punish a toddler for everything that they do wrong in a day’s time, then they would never get out of the naughty chair. In the grand scheme of things, you need to pick your battles. Sometimes if you just ignore things, then they will stop doing them. For instance, if your child screams every time you get on the phone, then stop giving them the attention they want.

They will eventually learn that when you are on the phone, you are not going to be as attentive to them. When learning how to discipline a toddler, rank their offenses as small, medium, or large. If it’s a minor infraction, and you’ve already yelled ten times that day, then you might just let it go. However, you always punish significant infractions no matter how many times they have been told. The punishments should also escalate for repeat offenses.

8. Redirect Their Behaviors

Sometimes you don’t need to make a big deal as you are discovering how to discipline a toddler. Rather, redirect them into something else. If they are screaming and getting upset because they can’t get the blocks to stack without falling over, simply show them something else to do. A child can easily be distracted and redirected, and there is no need for any disciplinary action.

9. Expect Transition Difficulties

As you begin to introduce discipline, you should expect that it won’t go over well. There will be massive temper tantrums, kicking, screaming, crying, and you will be rocked to your core. Always walk away from the situation and breathe before correcting. Remember, you don’t want to scream, yell, or say things that you might regret.

Toddlers are in their formative years, and they are still learning many things. They are going to try your patience because they don’t like these changes. It’s okay to be distraught, but you should never let them see you upset. Make sure to have someone else reinforce discipline and help you when you need a time out to rest.

10. Take Preventative Measures

Some people believe that they should never have to put things up because they have a toddler. Rather, they feel that the toddler should learn what things they can and cannot touch. While that’s a good thought, it doesn’t always work out that way. If your child doesn’t leave a vase that you have on the coffee table alone, then if you don’t want it broken, you should put it up. Remember, they are still a child and have much to learn. If it’s something valuable to you, save yourself the heartache and put it up.

11. Use A Behavior Chart

As your child gets a bit older, you can introduce a star chart. Children love getting stars for things like brushing their teeth, not getting into time out, and picking up their toys. Use positive reinforcements, and the need for discipline will become less frequent. Have them put the stars on the chart to enhance their feeling of accomplishment. Here are some things to use a chart for:

  • Good behavior
  • Eating all their vegetables
  • Helping with clean up
  • Making their bed

12. Discipline the Behavior – Not The Child

It’s easy to become very frustrated when your child has been in trouble many times that day. However, on your journey to learn how to discipline a toddler, you will find that it’s natural to become mad at them. You must always correct the behavior. Let them know that you don’t like that they hit their little sister but remember to enforce that your love for them hasn’t changed. Tell them why they shouldn’t hit their sister and correct the action, but make sure they know that it doesn’t change how you feel about them. Toddlers that feel they are disappointing their parents may act out trying to get your attention.


Children certainly don’t come with a manual. Many things are about trial and error in your efforts to learn how to discipline a toddler. What works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another. This process will be just as difficult for you as it’s for them. Remember to stand your ground and don’t give in to their behaviors. If you give in just one time, then they will feel they can manipulate you and gain control.

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