How to Discipline a Toddler With 6 Effective Techniques


Your toddler doesn’t understand that her actions are not what mommy and daddy want her to do. Yes, as a toddler ages, she’ll start to realize what behavior is appropriate and what is not. Parents have a difficult time grasping the concept of discipline.

There are right ways to discipline a toddler.

Once you know how to discipline a toddler, it becomes much easier to deal with rowdy or mischievous behavior.

How to Discipline a Toddler Without Hitting

Hitting your child is not the answer to discipline. When you hit a child, there is risk that you’ll hurt them, and all you’re doing is breeding fear. Yes, you want your child to respect you, but do you really want them to fear you?

Most parents would pick respect over fear.

I’m going to share a few very effective techniques that you can start using today to discipline your toddler.

[Related:Authoritative Parenting]

1. Be Consistent Across the Board

discipline the kid without hitting

I know a lot of parents that aren’t consistent with their discipline. Why? There are a lot of reasons:


  • They allow their discipline to be invoked by anger
  • They don’t both agree on the discipline

If little Joey isn’t supposed to throw his food on the floor, you need to agree with your spouse that this is unacceptable and discipline him every time he does it. You can’t choose to discipline him only when he does it in front of grandma.

Consistency sends the right signals that no matter what, the action the child is taking is not appropriate.

If you allow a toddler to perform an action 99% of the time without a consequence and only discipline them 1% of the time, you’re not going to have success with your disciplining.

You also need to be consistent with your schedule. If Joey is supposed to go to bed at 8pm every day, don’t allow him to stay up until 11pm one day and not the next. Yes, there are toddlers that are up with their parents at all hours of the day and night.

Scheduling everything helps avoid unwanted toddler behavior. You’ll want to schedule:

  • Meal times
  • Bed times
  • Nap times

Toddlers also need to have time to run around and be themselves. If you allow for a little scheduling in your life, you’ll find that this is one of the best ways you can discipline a toddler.

2. Read the Best Toddler Discipline Books

how to discipline the kids

If you want to know how to discipline a toddler, look towards the professionals. Writers have been churning out books on toddler discipline for a century, and while some old techniques are harsh, there are a lot of new books that really shed some light on toddler discipline.

The books that you’ll want to read can be found at the top of Amazon, and these include:

[Related: How to Talk so Kids will Listen]

And these are just five of the many books that teach parents how to properly discipline their children.

If you become a master of the subject, you’ll be better prepared to discipline your own children, too.

3. Breaks Help Break the Cycle

discipline the kids

If you’re a parent, then you already know that a lot of people put their kids in timeout. The reason for this timeout is to allow the toddler to have a break. Some research suggests that timeouts might not be the best for a toddler.

But this doesn’t mean that they don’t need a break.

Instead, they say to limit the timeout to 2 – 3 minutes for children under the age of three. The goal is to remove the negative connotation that is attached to the word “timeout.” You’ll want to call it something a little “nicer,” such as ‘it’s time for a break.”

The goal of a break is to:

  • Allow yourself and your child quiet time
  • Allow your child time to get back under control
  • Allow emotions to calm

If you give your child a timeout, you may find that it’s one of the best techniques for disciplining your toddler.

Remember that you also need to be a good role model for your child. If you start throwing fits, screaming and yelling, what example are you giving your kids? Not a good one. Kids need to have a good role model to emulate.

This means that you also need to keep calm throughout everything, even the attention-getting bouts.

Sometimes, mom and dad need to step away from the situation and have their own timeout. Give yourself a few minutes before you rush in and scream at your child. Let the emotions settle.

4. Reinforce Good Behavior

If you really want to know how to discipline a toddler, you need to know that negative actions aren’t the only ones that matter. Toddlers need to know when they’re doing bad, yes, but they also need to know when they’re doing something good.

Praise is deserved when a child engages in good behavior.

Think of potty training. When a child is being taught to go to the bathroom on the potty, they receive loads of praise. The idea is to reinforce the right behaviors so that your child knows what mommy and daddy want.

It’s difficult, but telling your child when they’re doing right is a very good training tool.

Remember this:

  • Toddlers will do wrong to get attention

Giving your toddler attention when they do something right will be much better for everyone involved. A little praise goes a long way in teaching your toddler which actions they’re expected to perform and to fill the attention gap that they may be seeking.

5. Distract Your Child When Necessary

 Discipline a Toddler with Effective Techniques


Toddlers will become fixated on things. Sometimes, your toddler may throw her bowl on the floor because she thinks it’s funny. It’s a time when a parent either gets a headache or laughs off the child’s behavior.

Your child may be fixated on the activity that is driving you nuts.

How do you deal with these situations?

The art of distraction. Your child will be fixated on a zillion things during the day, so it’s time to redirect her attention to something else. An issue is that your toddler is smarter than you think.

She may pay attention to the new activity for a few minutes before seeing if he can go back to the previous, aggravating activity without making you mad. It’s up to you to redirect this bad behavior calmly.

The goal is to break your child’s fixation.

You might have a child unroll the entire roll of paper towels five times a day. Removing your child from the room and closing the door might help.

6. Actions and Consequences

discipline the toddlers with actions

Toddlers, depending on their age and development, will start to associate their actions with consequences. If they perform an action that you don’t like and they get attention, they may continue doing this same action just to get attention.

So, what can you do to break this cycle?

Professionals recommend focusing on the bad behavior and never telling your child that he is bad. Instead, you want to reinforce that the child’s behavior is bad. A change may be needed, and this means consequences.

You can take something away from him, or you can make it so that he misses an activity that he likes.

I am going to give you an example.

  • Little Joey won’t stop throwing a fit every time he goes to brush his teeth. It’s a hassle, and it’s not getting any better.
  • Introduce something Joey likes after brushing his teeth. Maybe he likes being read to for 10 minutes, so you read to him once you’re done making him brush his teeth.

What can you do with this new routine? You can choose to time it and reduce reading time by as much time he spends fighting to brush his teeth. If you read to him for 10 minutes per night and he is old enough to associate consequences with actions, reduce the time you read by one minute per minute lost brushing his teeth.

After missing reading a few nights or only being read to for three minutes because he argued for seven minutes, he’ll understand that his actions do have consequences.

Now that you know how to discipline a toddler, it’s time to put these points into action. You might have a hard time at first, but with consistency, your toddler will start to let those bad behaviors go to the wayside and behave.

Recommended Reading: 

  1. Talking to Toddler Review, Is It Effective?
  2. How to stop our 6-8 years old kids from lying?
  3. Nail Biting: Why Do Kids Do It and How Can I Stop It?


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