Discipline and Toddlers

Many parents and caregivers who work with toddlers (children age two to three) often wonder how the Discipline Without Stress methodology can work for them. Since young children cannot understand the concept of internal motivation, which is key in the Discipline Without Stress approach, parents and caregivers think they have no choice but to resort to rewards and punishments in order for the youth to learn appropriate/inappropriate behavior.

The fact is that you can teach children as young as age one or two appropriate behavior without using rewards or punishments. Here are a few techniques:

  • When the child does something that is not appropriate, lightly touch his or her wrist and move your head sideways (in a “no” “no” motion). Persevere. You may have to do this a number of times before comprehension sets in.
  • When the child starts to cry because he does not receive what he “needs” (read: “wants” or “seeks”), hug the child. If crying continues, hug harder.
  • Divert the child’s attention with another activity.
  • When your three-year-old is able to understand, continually use two phrases:
    A. Show me what is the right thing to do.
    B. What would a responsible person do?

Disciplining a child of any age does not have to be stressful if you follow the three principles of maintaining positivity, encouraging reflection, and offering guided choices.