There’s nothing in life that’s more rewarding than raising children. Unfortunately, raising children is also one of the most frustrating tasks of parenthood. Children need constant guidance from their parents, and they must sometimes be disciplined. However, some parents make the mistake of reacting to their children while they’re angry and do not know how to discipline a toddler in an effective manner. This is a fatal error, and it is especially true in the case of toddlers who are more likely to get into trouble, yet are more susceptible to injuries from corporal punishment.
How to Discipline a Toddler
Before disciplining toddlers, it’s necessary to understand a few things about them. First off, toddlers are more like babies. Everything in life is a new experience and they’re anxious to learn. This is why they’re always getting into something, and they should be given the benefit of the doubt in most cases. Parents must also realize that, like babies, toddlers are used to getting their way when they cry. For six month olds, crying is the only way they have to communicate hunger, discomfort and loneliness. Since the parents always respond to the crying, they get used to it as a means of getting their way. This continues well into their toddler years unless the behavior is weaned.
The best way to stop a toddler from throwing a tantrum is to simply ignore the awful behavior. This may seem like bad advice, but it teaches the child that the days when crying could get them what they want have ended. It’s a very testing and frustrating means of discipline, but it’s extremely effective.
Once the child stops the crying and screaming, the parent can explain that the tantrum is ineffective and words must be used to communicate. The children will eventually comply, because they ultimately get rewarded with whatever it was they were initially crying for. Ignoring the child prevents future tantrums, and even spanking them isn’t as effective. However, it may be necessary to use physical discipline if the tantrum goes too far. Most children will simply fall out crying, kicking and screaming. This behavior can be extremely embarrassing in public settings, but it should be ignored even then.
The exception would be when the child begins to destroy things or hit others. If the child throws a tantrum in the grocery store, the parent should continue to shop as if the yelling and screaming isn’t an issue. The absolute worst thing the parent can do is cave in and provide the youngster with whatever he or she is demanding. Every time the parent gives in, it sends the message that tantrums are viable forms of communication. Ignoring the behavior is the best proven method for dealing with a tantrum. However, it may be necessary to spank the child if he or she begins to pull glass jars from the shelf and throw them to the ground. However, spanking a toddler should always be used as a last resort.
Physical Discipline for Toddlers
Many experts recommend giving the toddler a timeout in a corner when he or she acts out. However, this only works if the child agrees to stand in the corner. This is when physical discipline may be necessary, because a child who is being blatantly disobedient must be discouraged from this behavior.
Physical discipline doesn’t have to include spanking, because toddlers are small enough to be controlled without it. If toddlers refuse to stand in the corner, simply pick them up and physically move them. Make sure they understand that they have five minutes of timeout, and the clock doesn’t start until you let them go. It may take five or ten minutes of struggling before the child realizes fighting is futile. Be firm without showing signs of anger and frustration.
Let the child know over and over again that the bad behavior is only increasing the amount of corner time. Saying things like “That’s another minute in the corner” shows the child that the parent is in control and there are consequences to throwing a tantrum. Regardless of how long it takes, the parent must win these battles for control. Every time they give in makes it more difficult to stop future tantrums.
Other Forms of Toddler Discipline
Every child has a favorite toy or activity which can used as a means of effective discipline. Restriction leaves a lasting impression upon the child, and it can be used to prevent future tantrums. Saying “No Ninja Turtles this afternoon” can be far more effective than spanking the child. This is especially true for parents with multiple young kids. The misbehaving child will be excluded from fun activities and the toddler learns negative association for bad behavior.
Items Used for Effective Restriction
- Video Game Consoles.
- TV Shows.
- Play Time.
- Trips to Fun Places.
Reasons to Discipline a Toddler Without Spanking
The debate rages on about the effectiveness of spanking. Most pediatricians advise against it. While spanking is effective when used sparingly, there are a number of reasons to avoid it altogether. Of course, parents would never intentionally cause serious physical harm to their own children. However, the frustration of raising a child can sometimes overwhelm their better judgment. This is especially true when the child is throwing a tantrum.
The Consequences of Spanking
Surely Nicholas Williams of Austin, Texas didn’t mean to end his child’s life when he allegedly spanked her to death. However, the young man was still charged with murder after the two year old died following the spanking. Now, the child’s mother has lost her significant other and her child, because he went too far.
By no means is this incident isolated, as Phyllis Turner of Arkansas was also brought up on murder charges after her stepson died following a spanking. The woman was so distraught when she learned of the child’s death that she attempted suicide. She may be convicted of murder, but this punishment pales in comparison to the guilt she’ll feel for the rest of her life.
This is why it’s important to remember effective anger management practices when dealing with a toddler, because these accidental deaths are far too common. The debate about spanking continues to be a hot topic.
Seeing is Believing
Many people grew up with physical punishment, and they see nothing wrong with spanking a child. However, the grey area created by allowing corporal punishment makes a lot of people uncomfortable. When news first broke of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s arrest, many people rushed to his defense. The public opinion was divided, because people feel as though parents should be able to spank their children. However, this support began to fade when the disturbing pictures of the four year old’s heavily scarred leg became public. Suddenly, people who had adamantly supported the use of spanking were forced to imagine the helpless child being repeatedly struck by one of the most powerful men in the NFL. Surely, Peterson loves his son dearly, but he allowed his anger to get the better of him. This is why it’s important for parents to remain calm when handling children. It’s often too easy to get carried away with physical discipline.
Anger Management Practices for Parents
- Stop and count to ten.
- Remind yourself of how delicate a toddler is.
- Order the child to get out of your sight.
- Squeeze a stress ball.
- Go for a jog.
- Take parenting classes.
- Talk to a therapist.
- Let the other parent discipline the child.
It’s important to remember that the toddler is only a child, and is therefore subject to childish behavior. Children have very active imaginations and they will find ways to keep themselves entertained. While it’s necessary to take steps to curb bad behavior, hitting a toddler can be catastrophic.