Toddlers are free spirited little people that are constantly learning about the the world around them. This can make life frustrating for both you and your little one. Here is how to discipline an 18 month old in an effective way according to science.
Welcome to the thrill ride of 1 year olds! The toddler years are full of wonderful milestones, but they’re also full of stressful parenting moments as your child challenges limits and battles with huge emotions.
Even the most patient mother will find it difficult to deal with a child who refuses to do what you ask. The resistance elicits a visceral rage you didn’t realise you possessed, and you wonder what it would take to get him to listen. Nothing seems to work, no matter how upset you are or how many threats you make.
While you realise how trivial the first “fight” was: chatting when he should’ve been asleep, refusing to clean up after himself, and not coming to the restroom when you asked him to, you feel horrible. Sometimes a child’s tantrum happens when you are setting limits. That’s ok! As long as you’re setting consistent limits your child will develop new habits and the tantrums will lessen.
Something needs to change, especially when nagging, repeating, and losing your cool aren’t working and you’re not seeing the “good behavior” you wish for.
Here are some positive discipline strategies to use on your 18-month-old toddler that do not involve physical punishment, and do involve a lot of patience so take a deep breath and dive in.
How To Discipline An 18 Month Old
Most people associate the word discipline with punishment or time outs, which are the results of children failing to follow instructions.
Discipline, on the other hand, is a quite different matter. Discipline is a type of teaching. We educate young children appropriate behaviour and assist them in understanding and expressing their feelings. the best way to get rid of bad behavior, and make sure it doesn’t come back in the long run is to use discipline.
When your child doesn’t listen, you could get sucked into power struggles and feel intimidated. When you see punishment as a kind of education, though, you’re compelled to consider what he needs to learn instead.
What kind of instructive moment can he get out of this? What new behaviours, values, and consequences can he pick up as a result of this aggressive behavior?
Listed below are a few strategies to help him quit aggressive toddler behavior on purpose and decrease power struggles.
Use Eye Contact
Seeing the problem through the eyes of your child might have a literal significance. When speaking with him, one of the simplest methods to improve communication is to get down to eye level of your small child. There are three advantages to doing so:
- He’ll pay attention to you. When you’re trying to be serious and he thinks the entire thing is hilarious, it’s aggravating. Get down on his level, make eye contact, and speak to him in a calm but forceful tone.
- You’ve improved your demeanour. When you’re physically speaking to him from above, he may feel “talked down to.” Kneeling at his level forces you to talk in a more courteous manner and to attend to his requirements.
- You stay away from power struggles. He feels heard, which makes him less defensive and more willing to comply.
The brain doesn’t fully mature until our mid-late twenties, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The frontal lobe, which is responsible for judgement, planning, risk assessment, and decision-making, is the final portion of the brain to mature at the age of 30. So, as parents, what does this imply?
It implies that we should be patient and kind with our children. It means that toddlers are frequently incapable of meeting our unreasonable expectations.
It implies that no matter how brilliant we believe our older toddlers are, or how much we want he could reason and rationalise, he simply does not have an adult’s brain.
We may wish for children to act with self-discipline and self-control, but it is our obligation to lead them until their brains grow (and to ‘lend’ them our prefrontal cortex till theirs matures).
Find the Root Of The Behavior
There seemed to be defiance everywhere. When your child refuses to eat, or when she should know better than to jump on the bed (particularly after you’ve asked her to stop several times), you’ll notice it.
But, if I had to guess, she isn’t acting in order to irritate you. If you look closely, you could notice that she was attempting to repair a toy when you invited her to come to the table to eat. It wasn’t defiance that made her jump on the bed, but rather enthusiasm at her new bed.
Before you respond to her conduct, take a moment to consider why she’s acting the way she is. You’ll express sympathy and assure her that you’re “on the same page.”
Use Logical Consequences
Have you ever informed your child that if he doesn’t behave, he’ll be punished? False threats are not only ineffectual, but they are also seldom used.
As long as you follow through with the consequences that are tied to his behaviour, they are learning opportunities. Putting your foot down provides the boundaries that he need.
And honouring your word strengthens his faith in you. While you may not acquire his favour in the short term, you will gain his trust if you follow through regularly. Otherwise, he’ll learn that he can keep misbehaving since the repercussions you promise never materialise.
Because toddlers can grasp good and wrong at this age, natural consequences (the unintended repercussions of their actions) tend to function effectively. Let’s assume your kid throws a toy behind the sofa on purpose. You take it back and tell her that you’ll get it this time, but you don’t want her to do it again. She does it again, you guessed it! As a result, she loses the toy for the time being, at least until you clean beneath the sofa again.
Logical consequences, like natural ones, are linked to her actions. They are imposed by you, as opposed to natural consequences. For example, during supper, your child puts her cup on the floor. “Cups remain here,” you remark as you take it up and place it back on her tray. “We don’t toss cups.” When she tosses it again, the only natural response is to declare, “No more cup,” and toss it in the sink. If she’s thirsty, you can offer her water after the meal.
Natural and logical consequences are usually sufficient, but if they aren’t (or if your kid engages in “red-light” behaviors such as striking, biting, or running away from you in a parking lot), you may want to explore time-outs or time-ins.
Pick Your Battles
Spending time with your toddler may be exhausting, especially if every contact results in a conflict. You keep a close eye on him, ready to intervene at the first indication of wrongdoing.
However, there are instances when you must choose your fights and choose which behaviours are vital to fix and which are not. Everything doesn’t have to be a fight. While consistency is important, you must also allow for flexibility and allow for life’s complexities.
Giving your child choices might help prevent a meltdown and encourage them to listen.
- Encourages him to take charge of the work. Putting on a jacket will not appear to be Mom’s Horrible Idea Against Which I Must Rebel. Instead, he is given the option of wearing a green or grey jacket.
- Reduces the likelihood of confrontation. Avoid numerous tantrums by focusing on the options he has rather than the task he is refusing.
- It gives me a sense of strength. He is virtually always subjected to adult decisions, whereas making choices allows him to express himself. He’ll be proud of his decisions and stick to them.
- It demonstrates that you regard his viewpoints. You make the majority of his decisions for him, but you also provide him options because you care about and respect his choices.
- It encourages him to think for himself. Giving him options helps him to express himself and practise critical thinking. He’ll hold himself accountable and choose between the two options.
Explain Your Reasons
It turns out that when we have a reason, individuals are more inclined to cooperate.
Your toddler is in the same boat. She may detest being told what to do all of the time in a society controlled by grownups. Consider having to follow regulations you don’t always understand or do things you don’t want to do.
Rather than being told what to do or what not to do, she will be more inspired to do so if she understands why she should.
Statements like “Use gentle hands when petting the dog, we don’t want to hurt our family pet” can help your toddler understand that we need to be gentle with our pets.
Giving a reason removes you from the situation and allows you to concentrate on the work at hand. You’re not the “mean parent” who tries to control her just because you can. You’re explaining why she has to do what you’ve asked her to do.
You won’t come off as domineering if you give a rationale for your request, especially if you say it in a soft tone of voice.
Give Praise when Praise Is Due
Children thrive on attention, whether it be positive or negative. Unfortunately, kids prefer arguing, shouting, and scolding to receiving no attention at all. When you are dealing with toddler tantrums, you’ll want to avoid praising your young toddler in the moment, but you can praise them after they have calmed down.
When your child is acting well, the greatest method to combat misbehaviour is to give lots of praise and pay attention to her.
Use Positive Words
When you use positive language, you’re saying things that your child can do rather than things that he can’t. It’s the difference between “Don’t run” and “Walk.”
If you find him doing anything excellent, congratulate him with encouraging language. Let’s pretend he isn’t fleeing in broad daylight. “Look at you walking!” congratulate him.
Positive language will elicit a better response from him because no one enjoys being told what not to do. He’ll also feel he’s capable of good behaviour and performance. When you say things like “Don’t even think about…”, you’re not expressing confidence in his ability to follow these directions.
Listen To Your Toddler
How many times have you ignored your child’s pleas for your attention?
My children may be vying for my attention, but my mind is preoccupied with whether or not I have enough basil to make pesto. So, what’s my regular response? “Uh-huh…” I say, seeming to be interested in their stories.
There, I wasn’t exactly on my A-game.
When your child speaks, pay attention. Yes, his stories can become monotonous and unintelligible at times, or you’d rather be doing something constructive or relaxing.
Listening to him, on the other hand, creates a solid relationship and gains his trust and affection. Above all, it is courteous to listen. Isn’t it true that we can only expect to be treated the way we treat others?
Time-Outs & Time-Ins For Toddlers
Little ones despise being forced to stop what they’re doing, sit quietly by themselves, and be ignored for a certain amount of time. The idea is that kids will learn not to repeat the behavior that landed them in time-out in the first place since time-outs are so painful.
In parenting circles, there is a lot of discussion regarding time-outs. Some argue that it doesn’t truly teach the child anything and instead recommends “time-ins.” There are several variations of time-in. One popular method is to take your child out of the environment where she is misbehaving and sit with her.
Assist her in calming down and discussing what went wrong and what is expected of her. Another option is to create a calm down corner in your house with books, cuddly animals, and other relaxing items.
Disciplining an 18 Month Old Bottom Line
When your kid throws a tantrum or assaults his older sibling, it’s one thing; when he flatly disobeys you, it’s quite another.
Recognize his feelings and goals to encourage him to listen. Get down to his eye level and explain what he has to accomplish in a calm but forceful manner. Explain why and provide options for doing so that have been accepted by your parents.
To avoid power struggles and help him “save face,” pick your battles carefully. Follow through on the penalties and congratulate him when he completes the task at hand. In the long term, all of those moments of positive reinforcement are far more successful.
And, like anything else in parenting, you’ll have bad days. He may act well one minute and then purposefully disobey the next. There is no magic bullet—we’re all human, and everyone, including children, has terrible days.
Discipline, on the other hand, isn’t about being strict or handing out punishments. Instead, it’s teaching him how to behave, control his emotions, and deal with adversity.
Even while he sits and laughs, refusing to put the toy cars back in the box, discipline with the goal of helping him learn from the experience.
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