Disciplinary action

Disciplining a toddler is tough stuff and yet it must be done. We use a combination of approaches:

Verbal – This one’s obvious. If he’s doing something he shouldn’t do, we firmly tell him ‘No [insert action here].’ Most of the time, we find ourselves filling in the [insert action] part with hitting/standing on the couch/touch. About half the time he’ll listen, and half the time he won’t. But we are certain he understands, especially since these commands have been repeated over and over.

1-2-3 – We’re just beginning to start this. He gets 3 chances to improve his behavior or he gets a time out. Often times this one helps when he’s encroaching upon the dog’s space when the dog doesn’t want to play. So I’ll say ‘Leave the dog alone please…that’s ONE.’ If he does it again, ‘Leave the dog alone…that’s TWO.’ And should he make it to three, he gets a time out. It is not often I get to three.

Time Out – Since our house is small and the only good place we have to put him in time out is his crib, that’s where he goes. This has not effected him going to sleep at night or taking naps as the routine for those is very different. I will simply pick him up and march him to his crib, telling him he is in Time Out. We typically retrieve him after a minute or two, or if he’s very upset, when he’s calmed down (which is never more than a few minutes anyway). When I do the 1-2-3 method, I will ask him when I’m at 2, ‘Do you want a time out?’ at which point he realizes I mean business and tends to stop what he’s doing.

I’m not going to lie, it is really hard to calmly and rationally apply these methods on a daily basis, but we try our best. Different scenarios call for different measures. We don’t put him in Time Out for whining at this point- we just implore him to ‘Use your words or signs’ and try to help him out. Most of the time he is really good with our dog, but every now and then I’ll catch him giving her a smack or trying to toss a pillow on her and it gets me angry enough to yell at him. Toddlers are just so adept at pushing our buttons, and as much as I want him to act better, I have to focus on my own actions as well.

What about you all? Anyone have different approaches that they use?

Edited to add: I forgot something! We also consistently use positive reinforcement, which is rewarding good behavior (with praise). We make sure to tell him when he’s doing something well, like cleaning up his toys or even playing quietly. I think it’s just as important to do this as it is to correct bad behavior since it keeps the good behavior coming.

11 responses to “Disciplinary action

  1. It is really hard to discipline them before they turn two and really grasp consequences. We use 1-2-3 Magic with Oscar and it is just that, magic. We’ve just started it with our Miles.

  2. Oh it’s so hard! We’re trying to get into a groove, and make sure we’re consistent. We have been having him sit on the bottom step (our house is small too) as a “time-out”. Greta has been doing the step thing, I haven’t been sticking with it and I’m with him most of the time. If he hits me I give him a warning and if he does it again I stop playing with him/reading to him/doing whatever and tell him I don’t play with people who hit me.

    This weekend was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard. I’m right there with you.

    I’m really working on keeping my cool and I need to do some more reading in Screamfree Parenting.

  3. That sounds like a great system. I am a big fan of counting down with the munchkins I teach, and it works pretty well. I think discipline will get a lot easier once he turns two, and I think the fact that he’s responding to the one-two-three is pretty awesome already. Good luck! I’m bookmarking this. 🙂

  4. Owen’s just entering the “I’m going to test you until you get really pissed off” age…., and we’re starting to employ the “No (insert action here)” and moving him to a different location. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t.

    This toddlerhood is super fun sometimes. 🙂

  5. We’re just starting to do time out with Ian. At this point he gets told to stop, then a warning, then we remove him from whatever he’s doing and sit him down somewhere else. It only lasts seconds right now but he gets the point. Our overall discipline system (what we’ve done with Erik) is basically the same. I use 1-2-3 a lot. I find that at Ian’s age, re-direction works too, just saying, “You’re not playing nicely with that so let’s go find something else to do.”

    His favourite thing to do right now is pull hair and he laughs when you get mad or say ouch. He has started pulling his own hair after he pulls someone else’s. It’s like he’s thinking, hmm, let me try doing that to myself to see what all the fuss is about. LOL.

  6. Chunk is also testing boundries and this past week we have entered a new stage of willpower. He is starting to get ready mad when we tell him no and the big croc tears start down his face. He definately understands “no” and we are working on methods of discipline. He has bit me once on the shoulder in anger (awesome!) and got his first timeout in a living room for a few seconds. He got the point though and started crying in frustration. Ah, toddlerhood!

  7. I love your methods. My staff teaches 1-2-3 magic to prents almost weekly with excellent results. The videos are also really funny. Sounds like Miles is responding pretty well also.

  8. I need to bring in some 1-2-3!
    Right now we have warnings that I think are like 1-2-3 but I’m not saying the numbers. I should. I like that.

    As for our time outs I use the bottom step. I use it for when he is being put in a time out for bad behavior and I use it if he is having a BIG emotional moment and flailing just a bit too much like a wild boy. I get that he will be upset about things and so we use the step as a place to work it out. For some reason it works well with our emo boy. And he will even take himself to the step to cry about something all by himself – which I kind of love.

    If he is unable to complete his time out on the step then I take him to his crib. I turn on the light, leave the door open and tell him I will be back when he has calmed down.

  9. I remember with my oldest at some point I clued in to the fact that he was always testing and pushing limits at around the same time of day, and that the counting or time out threats were having no effect. It was like, duh, he’s tired. He’s practically begging us to put him to bed the only way he knows how. We enjoyed playing and spending time with him in the evenings, but we realized he needed an earlier and really consistent bedtime. Don’t get me wrong, he still tested us, but that really helped alleviate the most egregious and clearly deliberate rule breaking. Now he’s a teenager, and everyone always said the battles you don’t win in toddlerhood, you repeat as a teen. I’m not sure that’s true. But it scared the crap out of me then. This time around, I will relax more about doing it “right”, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for your post.

  10. We do a lot of redirection and a bit of natural consequences (Mama doesn’t like to play with people who hit her, etc). I’ve found that at this point most of the testing of limits is because she wants some attention so I try to sit down and give her some one on one which helps a lot.

  11. Pingback: TTC thoughts, etc. | Love+Love=Marriage

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