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To Discipline Means to Teach

Janet Ray M. Ed

What discipline is: Discipline is a strong, effective way to teach . . .

  • Positive behaviours
  • Positive ways to express feelings
  • Positive ways to play
  • Family values
  • Safety for the child, other people, things

What discipline is not: Discipline is not punishment. Punishment may . . .

  • Make young children feel unloved
  • Make them feel they are bad
  • Focus on what is wrong without teaching what is right.

What’s important to remember:

  • Your toddler is beginning to find out that she is her own person. She may say, "No!" and "Me do it!"
  • Your toddler has a memory, but it is very short. He needs to repeat something over and over before it stays in his memory. He isn’t trying to be bad when he plays with the TV buttons after you’ve told him to stop. He just doesn’t remember the rule yet!
  • Toddlers act without thinking. If they see something to climb they’ll climb it . . . without thinking about how to get down.
  • Toddlers can’t plan ahead. They can’t wait. They want things now! This doesn’t mean that your toddler is greedy, selfish or bad. It’s just a normal part of her growing.

Here’s the secret of teaching a toddler. Help the toddler want to do what you want him to! F or example, say, "I’ll bet you’re strong enough to carry your plate to the sink!" .  Teaching a toddler with love and respect will earn you two rewards:

  • Right now: You’ll have more fun and less fusses.
  • In the future: Your child will see you as loving and caring and will want to please you.

Smart Discipline

Make your house safe for your toddler. She is curious and will taste and touch everything she sees. Move things out of reach if they are dangerous or can be broken. That way you won’t have to fuss or say "No!"

Distract your child from something you don’t want him to do. For example, if he starts to chew on a crayon, give him a toy or cracker instead.

Praise your toddler again and again for doing something right. For example, "You’re growing up! You put the jelly in your mouth instead of your hair!"

Use "Do" rules so your toddler can learn what to do instead of what not to do. For example, "Please use your indoor voice," instead of "Don’t yell in the house."

Set routines for meals, bed time and bath time. Toddlers behave better when they know what to expect.

Make sure your correction fits the situation. For example, if your child draws on the wall, take away her crayons for a while – and help her clean the wall.

- Janet Ray, M. Ed.   Reprinted with the permission of zerotofive.org