How to discipline toddlers and kids of different ages

As a mom, it is very important to know how to discipline toddlers and kids of different ages. Disciplining a child must be age-appropriate for it to work.

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As a parent, it is very important to know how to discipline toddlers and kids of different ages.  There are effective and age-appropriate ways to handle their misbehavior in such a way that they will think twice before repeating the offense.

Okay, so maybe it will take a third, fourth or fifth “think” before they catch on. The point is that they do eventually catch on as long as you handle their discipline appropriately. 

Terrible twos tantrums toddler discipline: How to discipline toddlers who doesn’t listen

Before we dabble in “how to discipline a toddler without hitting and yelling”, it is important to note that a baby under the age of 10-12 months should never be disciplined beyond the repeated “no” and slap on the hands.

This teaches them the necessity of not touching breakables, things that can burn or harm them in other ways, and not putting things in their mouth that could possibly choke them or be poisonous.

Terrible twos tantrums toddler discipline? Once they reach that toddler stage, however, you will need to be prepared to discipline your child. You need to remember, though, that a toddler’s defiance is usually the result of another problem.

They may be scared, ill, or simply not understand what is expected of them. They may also feel overwhelmed by their surroundings. And then, yes, there are those who are simply testing their boundaries because that’s what they feel needs to be done.

For whatever reason, the first step toward discipline needs to be deflection. Try to deflect them away from the situation by drawing their attention to something positive. This will work much of the time, but when it doesn’t try one of the following:

  • Remove the toddler from the situation
  • Gently, but firmly holding them on your lap; speaking to them calmly, reassuringly but firmly stating what is expected of them
  • Short periods of ‘time out’-one minute for every year old they are
  • Taking away the item (toy, book, etc.) that is causing the problem

Preschoolers: How to discipline toddlers who doesn’t listen

Once your children reach their preschool years, they are more aware of right vs. wrong and can be held accountable for their actions. Again, the discipline should be age-appropriate and fit the ‘crime’.

It is also important to remember that children this age are eager to copy your actions and will often times do things like mummy and daddy (putting on makeup, going through the tool box, cooking, mopping the floor, etc.) to be helpful (or so they think). At times like this, it is better not to discipline or punish. They honestly didn’t see any wrong-doing in their actions.

When to discipline a toddler? The behaviors of a preschooler that need disciplinary action include:

  • Hitting
  • Not sharing
  • Bullying
  • Lying, cheating
  • Sassing and arguing
  • Disobedience

How to discipline toddlers without yelling? Proper discipline for a preschooler’s misdeeds includes:

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  • Talking with your child about their misdeeds; why it was wrong, what they need to do to make retribution, and not repeat the offense
  • Time out
  • Removing your child from the situation
  • Withholding a favorite toy, television time, or another privilege for their misbehavior

Elementary aged children: How to discipline toddlers who doesn’t listen

  • Elementary aged children are at an age when they are beginning to think for themselves more and more. And with this thinking for themselves comes a fight for independence.

It’s important to allow them a certain amount of independence, but at the same time, you need to teach independence within boundaries and with respect for those boundaries and authority.

This is done by allowing them to spread their wings a bit via overnights with friends, earning an allowance and allowing them to spend part of it as they choose, making choices in regards to what they wear, what activities they participate in (within reason) and to pursue a hobby of their choosing.

How to discipline a toddler without hitting and yelling? When your child does act out, however, the appropriate disciplinary measures include:

  • Loss of privileges
  • An act of kindness for every act of unkindness or disrespect
  • Additional chores
  • Verbally expressing their acknowledgment of their wrong doing and asking for forgiveness

Older children

As your children grow and mature, their need and desire for independence, expressing their own thoughts, and feelings, and discovering who they are is both natural and important. But this time of discovery, like every other phase of their life, needs to be handled with lots of firms but gentle love and care.

It is important that you allow your children to grow their own passions and interests, and that they are allowed to grow and mature at their own pace as long as it is within the boundaries and expectations of your household.

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If they do-no, when they do need discipline, the most acceptable forms of discipline include:

  • Loss of privileges
  • Loss of allowance
  • Extra household chores
  • An act of kindness for every act of unkindness
  • Loss of items that are near and dear to them; Ipod, computer, etc.

Remember what discipline is

Discipline is meant to teach appropriate behavior and to instill the fact that for every action there is a consequence. Discipline is not meant to humiliate, or cause pain nor is it to be used as ‘payback’.

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In other words, discipline is a firm and gentle love and with the intention of teaching your child how life is to be lived rather than using it as a control mechanism.

When to discipline a toddler

Since tiny babies have poor language comprehension, memory, and attention spans, the best early strategies concentrate more on damage control than on actually teaching lessons.

Ignoring and diverting attention are two extremely effective strategies. For example, your kid has found the liking to tip over their cup and bowl on their table. Put it back upright and show them that it’s the right way to use a cup and bowl.

When your kid starts to crawl around the 8-month mark, it’s important to think about setting limitations. Everything suddenly becomes interesting to their eye.

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Image from Shutterstock

A child at this age simply wants to explore; he has no concept of what is proper or improper. Make space for kid-friendly items and childproof the environment if you don’t want him to touch anything. Experts agree that this strategy works best for keeping kids out of trouble and makes it much easier for them to follow the rules.

The onset of tantrums occurs between the ages of 12 and 24 months. While parents must respond to tantrums swiftly, remember that these emotional outbursts are a normal part of growing up and do not warrant using harsher means of discipline like denying a child a privilege or locking him in his room.

Toddlers aged 24 to 36 months can be disciplined using cause and effect, empathy, and straightforward commands because they are capable of understanding these concepts. You can say, “Please give back your friend’s toy. We don’t take toys from other kids. We only share.”

The State University of New York at Stony Brook psychology professor Susan G. O’Leary, PhD, conducted a study in which she discovered that moms who offered lengthy reprimands were less successful than those who provided short, direct ones.

Since every child is different, a single technique of discipline won’t always work. However, the more you practice doing it and the more your child is aware of boundaries, the happier everyone will be and the easier it will get.


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Article originally published on theAsianparent Singapore

Additional information from Margaux Dolores

Written by

Darla Noble