As your toddler throws his toys across the room and begins screaming at the top of his lungs, you think back to when he was a baby and didn’t talk back or throw tantrums. Tantrums are a normal part of toddler development, but you can minimize their frequency or eliminate them completely by taking an active and involved approach to discipline. All children do not respond to discipline the same way, so it can take multiple strategies to figure out which one is the best for your family.
You need to follow through with the consequences you want to use for your toddler’s specific behavior. Avoid threatening that you are going to take away your son’s cars and trucks if he doesn’t stop throwing them across the room at his brother, unless you intend to take them away. Otherwise, he will quickly learn that your threats are empty and he isn’t going to receive any punishment for misbehavior. Ensure that all adult influences in your child’s life, such as your spouse or his grandparents, are also aware of the punishment and use it consistently.
Don’t set your expectations too high when enforcing methods of discipline. Expecting your hyperactive toddler to sit still for a two-hour movie or sermon might not be feasible, while expecting him to pick up a few toys and put them in his toy box at home is. Think carefully about his cognitive and physical abilities before automatically punishing him for something that is perfectly normal for his age.
Not all punishments work for each child. Children individually feel that certain things are more important than others. A teenager might feel that punishment restricting going out of the house is inhumane, while your toddler will probably be much more receptive to a punishment such as taking away his favorite toy. A hyperactive child might feel like sitting in the corner for three minutes is torture, but if your toddler likes time on his own to chill out, it might not actually be a punishment as much as you anticipate. Make the punishment appropriate for both his age and personality.
Focus on the Good
Don’t limit the attention that you give your child to negative actions. Praise him when he does something that you approve of. Instead of criticizing him for putting on mismatched shoes because it’s going to make you late, praise him for being independent and putting his own shoes on today but it’s better to have two shoes that are the same. If the attention your child receives is primarily negative, he is going to act out because it gets a reaction out of you.
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