How To Discipline a Toddler Without Hitting.
What The Research Says
It has come to light in recent years that corporal punishment in early childhood- including spanking, is linked to behavioral and psychological problems later in life. A meta-analysis by Gershoff (2002) revealed that spanking in childhood is associated with higher levels of aggression as well as lower moral and poorer mental health.
We’ve all been there, and sometimes it’s tough to think of ways to discipline your toddler when you feel like you’ve exhausted all other options. But it’s important as a parent, and as a person, to challenge yourself to improve or to try something new.
So, How Do You Discipline A Toddler Without Hitting?
1. Calm Down
If you’re feeling angry or frustrated and are tempted to spank your child, you need to remove yourself from the situation. It’s ok to have these feelings, god knows that dealing with a disobedient toddler can make even The Pope feel flustered. But it’s not ok to hit a child out of anger. This teaches your toddler that it’s ok to use violence when you’re feeling angry, or to resolve an issue. You need to remove yourself from the situation, go into another room and practice deep breathing until you are feeling calm and in control.
2. Try To Understand
Before you decide what discipline you think your toddler’s behavior needs, try to understand why they are behaving this way. For example, a toddler who has thrown something across the room may have done so because they are bored, or are looking for attention. Small children don’t do bad things because they are innately bad, they are often trying to communicate something, or are feeling frustrated. They could even be feeling hungry or tired. After you have thought about the reason behind their behavior, get onto their level and talk to them.
3. Get On Their Level And Speak Calmly But Firmly
Get down on your toddler’s level and speak in a calm but firm voice. Explain that you understand that they are feeling *frustrated, bored etc.* but that this behavior is not acceptable.
4. Give Them A Chance To Correct Their Behavior
If possible, give your toddler a chance to correct their behavior. For example, after you explain that what they have done is not acceptable, explain that they will have time out if they do it again.
5. Use Distraction
After you have given your toddler a chance to correct their behavior, offer a distraction. If you feel that they are behaving this way because of boredom, perhaps direct them to a new toy, or set them up with crafts or some sensory play.
6. If The Behavior Continues, Use Time Out
If your toddler deliberately continues the behavior after you have calmly explained the problem, and attempted to address any underlying reasons, try putting them in a safe but boring space. Scientists have shown that time out significantly reduces non compliant behavior. Do this immediately after they have done the behavior so that they know what they have done wrong. If you wait too long, they can get confused and not understand why they are being disciplined. It is recommended that you only leave a small child in time out for as many minutes as their age in years. For example, don’t leave a two year old for more than two minutes.
If your toddler tries to leave the time out space, consistently put them back. Let them know that this behavior isn’t tolerated and that you are serious.
7. Be Consistent
This is one of the most important ways to control bad behavior. Try to be consistent with what behavior you tolerate and what behavior you discipline. It takes time to change behavior and a small child will become confused if you are inconsistent. This can lead to problems with anxiety and can actually cause more bad behavior.
8. Use Positive Reinforcement
Using positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior) is a really great way to encourage good behavior, in turn reducing bad behavior. It’s difficult to use positive reinforcement while your toddler is misbehaving, so try and remember to do it when your child is being good. If they are playing nicely, remember to say that you appreciate how good they are being! If they use manners without being told, remember to comment on how good their manners are.
Seek Professional Advice If You Are Concerned
If you become concerned that your child’s behavior is not normal, seek the advice of a professional such as your family doctor. Sometimes it could be something as simple as a mineral or vitamin deficiency. Perhaps they will refer you to a child psychologist or pediatrician, who can assess their development properly.
Learning how to discipline your toddler without hitting isn’t easy for everyone, but keep in mind that persistence and consistency really does pay off! And remember to take some time out for yourself to recharge and refresh you parental batteries. Looking after yourself and your own mental health is vital for being the best parent you can be!
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