Good Tips - Discipline for Toddlers

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 0 comments
Try these tips from our panel of discipline experts to help you and your kid stay on track:

1. Pick your priorities. If you try to tackle every discipline challenge at once, you'll be too overwhelmed to stick with it. So choose just one or two to focus on with special diligence and attention. It might be whining, talking back, or tantrums. When these misbehaviors arise, be on top of them every single time. Don't give in. Don't reward them.

2. Brace yourself for a long haul. It typically takes three weeks to make over misbehavior. Put yourself in your child's shoes: "Mom never used to really mean that she wanted the table set until she started yelling. Now she means business the first time she asks. I'm confused." Change can happen, but probably not at the pace you'd like.

3. Write reminders. Leaving yourself notes that say, "Don't argue" or "Look for cooperation" or "Don't give in to whining" may seem simplistic, but it can really help. Put them where you'll see them during your day. And make an extra-big sign for yourself with what Pflock calls the 3Cs: "calm, consistency, and caring." These are your mama mantras now.

4. Time it right. It's tempting to attempt a crash course in manners right before a birthday or a rush of holiday parties, but you'll have better success if you choose a time that's more stable and predictable. Everyone needs time, structure, and no extra stress to practice consistency — especially you. So don't dive into a new discipline strategy right before a new baby arrives, or school starts, or you're working on a move.

5. Expect resistance. Your child will challenge you no matter how consistent you are. Or he may respond well right away, only to fall back into old habits. Don't despair — this kind of periodic testing is normal. Once you accept these temporary regressions, they'll be less frustrating, allowing you to stay on track.

6. Don't try to go it alone. Once you commit to a consistency campaign, solicit backup: Your partner and your child's teachers, coaches, caregivers, and grandparents can all reinforce your efforts to stop problem behaviors.

7. Make a point with wiggle room. Accidental inconsistency — you're too busy or preoccupied to enforce a rule — sends the message that it isn't important to you, which encourages your child to ignore it too. But intentional inconsistency — when you let your child know in advance that you choose to make an exception — can actually strengthen a rule. For instance: "Since you'll be with your grandparents this week, you can skip cleaning your room until next week."

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