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How to Explore the Punishments for a Toddler

Toddlers are curious by nature. Young children in the toddler stage are discovering their independence and are interested in exploring the world around them. However, their exploration can lead to touching items that could be potentially harmful. They may also display fits of temper, commonly called temper tantrums. Parents are responsible for teaching their child what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Say No

One of the easiest ways to keep your curious toddler from touching things is to move them out of her reach. Cleaning supplies and other potentially harmful items should be placed in locked cabinets or areas that are inaccessible to your child. Of course, it isn’t reasonable to move everything, so you have to teach your toddler to steer clear. When the child reaches for something she shouldn’t touch, simply say no. Use a firm but calm voice. You may have to move the child away from the item. Telling your child no once will not solve the problem. You will have to repeat the practice until she learns. It also helps to distract the toddler away from the item by getting her involved in another activity.

Natural and Logical Consequences

Let your child learn through the natural consequences of his behavior as long as those consequences do not place the child in danger. For example, if your child throws a toy and breaks it, the toy no longer works. If he throws his cookie on the floor on purpose, he does not get another one. He will begin to realize the consequences of his behavior. Parents can teach toddlers by creating logical consequences for inappropriate behaviors. For instance, if a child throws food, he must clean it up. The child learns through these logical consequences that he must clean up his mess.

Withhold Privileges

Withholding privileges can be an effective way of disciplining your child when she misbehaves. Make it clear to your child that she must give up one of her favorite items if she behaves inappropriately. If possible, take away an item that is related to the inappropriate behavior. Toddlers have a short attention span, so don’t tell her she can’t go to a play date tomorrow as punishment. She will likely forget what she is being punished for and won’t connect the behavior with the consequence.


Time-outs can be a good form of discipline for toddlers and young children. Choose an area and designate it for time-out periods. A chair placed in an out-of-the-way area will suffice. Make sure the chair is not placed where the child can watch television or gaze out of the window. Place the child in time-out when he misbehaves. Make sure the child knows that time-out is quiet time. A good rule of thumb in determining the length of time-out is one minute for each year of age, but no longer than five minutes. Use a timer and reset it if the child moves from the chair. Make sure he knows what behavior prompted the time-out. If he refuses to sit in the time-out chair, sit with him. Let him know that he can leave once he is calm.

Teach by Example

One way that children learn is by watching adults, particularly their parents. Set a good example for your child. If you want your child to pick up her belongings and put them away, do the same with your own.

Be Consistent

Be consistent in your rules and always follow through with discipline. If you discipline an inappropriate behavior one time and then overlook the same inappropriate behavior later because you are tired or busy, you will undermine your own authority. Effective discipline needs to be consistent. If the parent breaks his own rules, the child won’t follow the rules either.

Never Use Physical Discipline

The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions against spanking. A study published in the May 2010 Issue of “Pediatrics” suggests that spanking children may make them more aggressive later. Spanking teaches children that hitting is okay. The child who is spanked by her parents may not be able to differentiate that spanking from hitting someone else, such as another child.