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How to Discipline Your Toddler without Spanking

Toddlers are often headed for trouble, but you can steer them in the right direction without spanking.


  • Step 1: Set limits Kids like knowing what the rules are and how to follow them. Be consistent with the boundaries you set in order to teach your toddler how they should behave.
  • Step 2: Distract and divert Distract your toddler before they misbehave by calling their name. Then, shift their attention to something new. If they are about to finger paint a wall, firmly say "We don't do that," and quickly ask for their help with a game or household chore.
  • Step 3: Ignore temper tantrums Don't respond to temper tantrums -- this demonstrates that their dramatic displays will not gain them control over you or the situation.
  • Step 4: Use time-outs Use time-outs, but not until a child is at least 3 years old. Before this age most children don't understand the concept.
  • TIP: Limit time-outs to 3 minutes or less and avoid putting the child in their bedroom during this time. Otherwise, they may associate their room with punishment.
  • Step 5: Praise good behavior Rely on positive reinforcement to train your child to behave. When you "catch" them being good -- by sharing or cleaning up, for instance -- tell them what a good job they're doing.
  • TIP: Make it easy for your child to do the right thing by avoiding situations that set them up to fail. Don't expect them to sit in the nail salon for an hour when they are tired or hungry.
  • Step 6: Don't hit Don't hit your child, no matter how badly they behave. Many studies show that spanks and slaps teach children to fear their parents, and it's too easy for you to lose control when you're angry. So spare the rod, but don't spoil the child either.
  • FACT: During the toddler developmental stage, your child is learning to adjust to society's demands while trying to maintain their independence and sense of self.

You Will Need

  • Rules
  • Keen eye
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Patience

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