When To Discipline Your Toddler
Guest post from Joanne Mallon
Joanne Mallon is a freelance parenting journalist, a life and career coach and a parent to two, she wrote this post for me with some advice on when to discipline your toddler. Her book Toddlers: an instruction manual, features advice from parents on how to deal with all manner of toddler situation, you’ll even find a contribution from me on sleep!! Toddlers: an instruction manual is available from Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle, priced from just £3.35! Bargain!
Anyway, here’s When To Discipline Your Toddler:
You might think your child is a holy terror, but how naughty are they really? Often toddlers behave in a way that adults find unacceptable, but to the toddler makes perfect sense as part of their urge to express themselves and discover the world. So what if I smear this paint on the wall? It feels nice to do it….I’m tired, I’m crying, I didn’t want to come to this wedding anyway…I hate that food, I think I’m gonna FREAK OUT etc
So if your toddler’s behaviour is off whack, think about to what extent you contributed to that situation, and how you could have avoided it. Were they tired and due a nap? Are they picking up on stress at home? Was their blood sugar low and what they really needed was a snack? Was the situation basically pretty dull for a three year old?
Often you can draw a direct line from so-called “naughty” behaviour to its causes. If you address the causes then you will address the behaviour. And if you strip back these identifiable causes, the times when your child is simply badly behaved for the heck of it are probably much fewer than you realise.
By thinking ahead to the situations you go into, you can often divert challenging behaviour before it starts. Expect the best from your toddler, but at the same time manage your expectations and don’t blame your child if it all goes fruit loops at an inconvenient moment.
But even then, with the best will in the world, there will be times when your toddler’s behaviour puts you all to shame. And that’s the time when you need to show that their behaviour does have boundaries. Solid boundaries help children feel secure, but often they will check that those boundaries are in place by kicking out against them. So you owe it to your child to apply some discipline when it’s needed.