Discipline is one of those not-so-fun parts of being a parent. Face it: your precious little baby has grown up into a toddler who occasionally misbehaves by throwing his toys at the television or jumping on the furniture. There are a variety of different positive discipline techniques you can use to turn behavior that makes you want to curl up on the couch and hide under a blanket into behavior that puts a huge smile on your face.
Children are likely to repeat behaviors that garner positive attention and praise while stopping behaviors that cause them to get punished. Natural consequences create “punishments” without any interference from you. If your child refuses to stop throwing his toys, once one of them breaks, he’ll learn the natural consequence of throwing toys. Natural consequences aren’t suitable for dangerous actions such as running into the street, but in some situations, letting things happen naturally can be the most effective way to teach.
Children idolize and worship their parents when they’re young. They watch every move you make, which means that you’re a role model whether you want to be or not at any particular moment. If you get angry and throw things across the room, don’t be surprised if your toddler does the same thing. Yelling when you get mad only encourages him to yell when he gets angry or frustrated. Try to lead your life in such a way that you’d want your child to imitate you.
Praise your little one when you see him putting his toys back in the toy box or throwing his snack wrapper in the garbage. Attention is something that children crave, but they receive two forms of attention: positive and negative. Create an environment in your home where your tot receives much more positive reinforcement than negative. A child is likely to repeat behaviors that he receives praise for. If your child only receives attention when he misbehaves, he may misbehave more often because it leads to recognition.
Follow through with your discipline. Don’t make threats if you have no intention of following through. Don’t tell your child that he needs to pick up his toys in order to watch television before bed if you are going to end up letting him watch regardless of his actions. You also want to avoid saying things such as, “I’m going to count to three and then you’re going to timeout” if you aren’t going to follow through on your threat.
Be consistent in your punishments. If something works the first time, then continue to use the same technique in the future. A toddler may push your limits to find out how far he can press if you are constantly changing the rules. It’s also helpful to have any caregivers in your child’s life follow the same routine for discipline. Your child can expect that if he leaves his toys strewn across the living room floor that they will temporarily disappear, whether he is in your care, visiting Grandma or alone with your spouse. Just because Mommy isn’t around doesn’t mean all bets are off.