7 Tips On How To Make Discipline Work For Small Children

Babies come into this world with a clean slate. As the months and year go by, they develop their character. Strong-willed or weak, talkative or shy, aggressive or mild-tempered; all of these traits can show up in your kid.

How your child grows and subscribes to a given set of behavior will greatly depend on how you parent. Dealing with your kid’s outburst and unexpected behavior is difficult, but you’ve got to learn. If left to the whims of nature, your child’s future is at stake. It is your responsibility as a parent to make them grow into responsible adults.


Being a mother myself, I learned that it is possible to deal with and arrest negative toddler behavior. There is a way and it must be done now more than ever. It is better to manage your toddler now, do not wait until they grow older because it will be harder. Let me show you how.

Why Do Toddlers Act Like They Do?

# Developmental stage

For toddlers, biting and hitting is normal. They are not yet equating this behavior as wrong as they have not the notion of it yet. Initial biting and fighting over a toy are normal. The thing that must concern you is if your child continues to do this despite numerous attempts from you to reprimand him.

# Temperament, stress and new environment

Your child’s temperament and a new environment can also affect aggression. A child who feels tired, ill at ease, unwell or hungry is more likely to resort to aggression and tantrums.

Shy children or those that are not used to having playmates or lots of people around can also erupt emotionally. If your child suddenly throws temper tantrums out of the blue, check what is missing and what is new in his environment. There might be a trigger somewhere. What’s important is to be observant and to be responsive to your child’s moods.

The Right Way To Parent

1. Actions speak louder than words

Show them good behavior. Your words are futile if your actions speak otherwise. As a parent, show your kids the type of behavior that you want them to emulate. Aggressiveness begets violence, yelling begets resentment. By being courteous to everyone, a child learns respect.

Harsh words and loud voice might work temporarily but as the novelty wore out, he will just harbor resentment. Do not do anything that you don’t want your kids to copy.

For episodes of temper tantrums, do not yell and match your kid’s force. Be calm but do not pacify, if you are unsure about what to do, walk away from your kid temporarily and gather your thoughts. If a child can easily get what he wants when he does tantrums, he will likely resort to it more the next time. He will equate that the best and easiest way to get what he want is through throwing up his temper, and you’ll have a harder time dealing with it the next time.

2. Praise more than you criticize

Being a negative parent all throughout will make your child feel inferior, lacking and rejected. Criticizing without giving praise when he has done right will result in resistance. Your child will resort to negative behavior just to get your attention because there is no another way. Being raised in an authoritarian family, when I was my son’s age, even a tiny amount of praise is worth like gold. A single praise is infinitely better than a handful of yelling.

Pay attention to what your child had done better, to the type of behavior that you like. It always turns out that the type of character that he grows into is most likely the type of his character that his parent paid most attention to.

A little praise will get what you want, and your child will not grow up as resentful, dejected adults. You must build their self-esteem. Positive reinforcement always triumphs over criticism, so better give praise wherever it’s due.

3. Keep your words short and understandable

Do not bombard your toddler with too much information. Do not dole out all the reasons why he is wrong. At this stage, even just a simple and firm “no” is enough. Over talking won’t work, and so do being too emotional. Tone down your anger and instead, be firm.

Speak in small simple sentences. Lecturing in full a three-year-old is fruitless. Two minutes of small talk will do for this age. Your conversation must flow from his action and its consequence, yet do not delve too much into that. Just be direct and let it sink in. Ask him if he understands. Just let your child know the simple consequences. Giving threats and bargaining won’t work. Save this when your child grows older.

4. Don’t bribe and negotiate with a toddler

Your child is a chatter-box at around three years of age. This is a period when he can already voice out his desires and questions. Oftentimes, he will let you know what he wants, and will force you into it.

Parenting a toddler is not a democracy, it is not give-and-take. Do not let your toddler bargain with you, but instead, enforce what you think is right. You must be authoritative during this stage. Set limits and let your child feel frustration from time to time. Delay gratification and emphasize reason, this will make him gain self-control later in life.

5. Firm and consistent is the right way

Do not be too lenient. A toddler during this stage of development is naturally self-centered. Oftentimes, he will do something bad without even knowing that it is wrong. You have to correct your child each and every time.

Castigating your child on some mistakes while forgoing the same on other occasions will create confusion. He will not get the message. Tell him why and how he is wrong in every instance and you must do it right there on the scene; yet you must try not to reprimand him when there are others around. Do it in private and do it fast.

Don’t wait until the end of the day. Yet be careful not to nag. Demand fast compliance but do not repeat this out like every minute. Capture his attention in full the first time so that there will be less need for repetition. Likewise, I always emphasize to my child that his behavior is unacceptable; it is the behavior that must be changed, but he is nevertheless a valued person and is deeply loved despite his mistake.

6. Control aggression by setting limits

A child starts to become aggressive and to hit his playmates at age two. During this age, he has no notion yet of what is right from wrong. He is still testing his limits and his motor skills. Correct aggressive behavior such as hitting, biting and kicking with repeated firm reprimands. Letting him know that he is wrong at every occasion makes him develop his self-awareness.

Another reason for a child’s aggression aside from his developmental stage is his exposure to television and electronics. Since kids tend to model what they see, restrict your child’s television time to no more than less than an hour every weekday. Even child-oriented shows can show aggression and can affect a kid this age. Limit your kid’s exposure to TV and instead, let him channel his energy to play. Showering him with positive attention and cuddles during this age will also be beneficial.

7. Give your toddler time outs

For repeated unacceptable behaviors that won’t budge with repeated warning, give your child a time out. Let your kid stop whatever it is he is doing outright and put him on a quiet corner. He must not do anything right there but to just sit.

How long shall timeouts be? A minute per age in years of the child is alright. It means that for a 3-year old, timeouts penalty must be just around 3-4 minutes. When time is up, let him come up and instruct him to apologize. Time out is effective as reinforcement because it allows small kids some time to reflect on their mistake. It also emphasizes asking for an apology and understanding the consequence of a kid’s actions.


For us parents, there is always something to learn and improve on. We can either learn from our own mistakes or better yet, learn from other parents. Kids are like a puzzle, you’ve got to learn how to put them together rightly.

In parenting at every stage of development, tolerance is the key. Yet during toddler stage, be warned because you must up your patience a bit more to cope with your child. Each of us has our flaws and we can also get tired.

As with older children, the best way to deal with toddlers is to reduce their stress, set limits and express your love. Nobody says it is easy but it can be done. Be calm and placid. Your child is still growing up; he is still a great deal of work in progress. All that extra patience and running about as they make mess will be worth it later. So brace yourself, it will be a rough and enjoyable ride!

Sarah Morgan

Chief editor of WellBeingKid.com and striving mom-extraordinaire.Let me share and inspire you with my daily struggles to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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