4 Things You Need To Know About Disciplining Toddlers
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It is the part of parenting that I like the least. However, it is so vitally important.
So many behaviours are learnt, and therefore it is imperative that parents teach their children what is, and what is not acceptable. This is a service both to the child and to the rest of society.
Today I want to touch on four things that you need to know about disciplining toddlers.
This post originally appeared over at Mama’s Organized Chaos on the 11/01/2018
1) It Isn’t Fun
If you discipline your child and feel awful while doing it, you’re not alone! It isn’t fun. At all.
I hurt when my child hurts. I don’t like it when they’re upset or having a difficult time. However, I would rather my child learnt an important life lesson at age 2 where the consequences are fairly tame than to have to learn it at age 22 when there are some really important things at stake.
If you’re looking for more information about how to keep discipline balanced, then check out –> THIS POST.
It is so easy to be riddled with guilt when you’ve upset your child because you’ve had to enforce some boundaries. It’s a difficult feeling to overcome. However, if discipline is carried out properly and done in love then those feelings are lies. You are doing what is best for your child.
2) It Is Essential To Follow Through
Kids are smart. Even smarter than we give them credit. If you warn them about a potential consequence and then fail to follow through, they WILL remember that.
Not only does this make your job more difficult, but it creates a real sense of insecurity for the child. If you come through one time but don’t on another, your child is for sure going to be upset and confused.
And if they think you aren’t going to follow through then you can bet on the fact that they will push even harder to see how far they can get before you decide enough is enough.
I know discipline is hard work, but it is so important to follow through and set those clear boundaries for your child. Starting early can be helpful because they grow with the boundaries. Often times parents cry out for help with toddler discipline because they haven’t implemented anything previous to that.
Read this post to find out when it’s a good idea to start implementing discipline –> When to Start Discipline & How to Do It
3) Consistency Counts
This point was kind of touched on above. Consistency goes a long way in helping your child with both feeling secure and having a clear understanding of real consequences.
It will also help your child to learn faster and make discipline less frequent in the long run.
While it is difficult (exhausting!) to follow through every single time, I can assure you it will pay off. Your child will know that what you say goes. You’re not kidding and you won’t be nagged into changing your mind. This is also really helpful because it will help you to keep your cool.
Disciplining out of anger is always wrong. The result is not a positive one and will only serve to damage the parent/child relationship. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve all done it. We’ve all lost our cool and snapped at our children out of anger. My point is not to make you feel bad, but just to work on improving.
I remember my own parents snapping at us (sorry mum & dad!) and while it didn’t feel great, we still have an amazing relationship. Why? Because they were humble enough to apologise when they knew they messed up.
If you do snap at your child, I can assure you that saying sorry isn’t going to make them take you less seriously. In fact, it will do the opposite.
4) Don’t Expect Instant Results
This one can be difficult to swallow. You try disciplining for a certain behaviour a couple times and there’s no positive result. Your child’s behaviour remains the same and you throw your hands in the air and declare that disciplining doesn’t work.
Well, just wait a minute because some of the best advice I got was from a fellow mama who cautioned me that just because you don’t get instant results doesn’t mean it isn’t working.
Children are not robots. There is no clear-cut formula to get them to behave in a certain way.
Remember how important I said consistency was? Well, there you go. You have to be consistent AND patient with a lot of areas as far as discipline goes.
I remember a particularly challenging period with our eldest. It seemed as though someone has switched our generally compliant child with one that was full of defiance.
Despite being consistent with discipline and enforcing boundaries, his behaviour continued for several weeks. It would have been easy and was very tempting to just let things go. I was pregnant at the time and really not feeling great. Plus, having to be on his case so much was hard on my heart.
However, I am so thankful that I had wise friends and family around me who had walked that parenting path before. Shane and I remained consistent and you know what? It worked.
Our son’s behaviour improved and our relationship grew and deepened with him as a result. So many more conversations were had that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place. He learnt to respect us as his parents and we experienced the privilege of watching our child grow in strength and character.
To summarise. Discipline is difficult, for both parent and child. However, in the words of my friend Val:
Just because something is hard to do, doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do.
Most of the important things in life are challenging. Those challenges are what create character and integrity. It is our job as parents to put aside our personal feelings of discomfort in order to do what is right and good for our children.