Toddler Discipline: 18-24 Months
If you read our article on parenting styles, you know that authoritative parenting has been proven to be the gold standard over four decades of research. Here are a few authoritative techniques for teaching your toddler how to respect others’ expectations and control her emotions.
This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
Want to learn how to get your kids to listen without nagging, yelling or losing control?
–>check out this free parenting class<–
Tantrums peak between the ages of 18 and 24, however, they might begin younger. For toddlers, they’re a rite of passage, but for parents, they’re a source of frustration. Here are some strategies to consider:
Prevent – Tantrums are more likely in toddlers who are hungry, exhausted, or have access to forbidden items. Routines and babyproofing can help keep your child well-fed, rested, and away from items, she shouldn’t be playing with.
Distract & Redirect – If you know your toddler gets upset when Grandma departs after a visit, have a fun activity ready to divert her attention soon after she says goodbye.
Connect – When your toddler’s tantrum is caused by exhaustion, irritation, or grief, this method works effectively. Hold her and empathize with her: “You’re upset because your toy broke,” until she calms down.
Ignore — Ignoring your child while she is crying on the floor because you won’t give her a cookie teaches her that tantrums aren’t a good way to attract your attention or obtain what she wants. As soon as she comes to a halt, engage with her in a positive manner so that she understands the need of calming down.
It’s easier said than done to keep your cool. When you’re upset, none of your tantrum-busting tactics work. It’s fine if you take a step back and take a deep breath (or several).
Natural & Logical Consequences For Toddlers
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” behaviours such as striking, biting, or run awaying from you in a parking lot), you may want to explore time-outs or time-ins.
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 behaviour that landed them in time-out in the first place since time-outs are so painful.
Only when your kid reaches the age of 18 months does the American Academy of Pediatrics advocate using time-outs for “red-light” behaviours. Follow these phases based on your childrens capacity to cooperate with a time-out that lasts one minute each year of age:
Face your child away from you while holding him or her on your lap.
Encourage her to take a seat in a chair while keeping her hand on her lap or shoulder.
Tell her to sit in a chair (or somewhere else) until the time-out is over.
Allow your kid to resume what she was doing when the time-out has ended without more discussion or lecture.
Time-In — 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 quiet zone in your house with books, cuddly animals, and other relaxing items. Send your child to this time-out room when she misbehaves so she may learn to relax and reflect on her actions.
Things to Keep in Mind
Even when your child is engaging in button-pushing behaviour, one of the hallmarks of authoritative parenting is being emotionally sensitive to your child. This translates to:
“No biting,” rather than “bad girl,” is a good example of focusing on the behaviour rather than the kid.
“You’re insane. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. You’re mad. It’s fine to feel angry, but hitting me is not. Please take a break.”
“I understand It’s a bummer that we have to leave the park.”
“We don’t bite because biting hurts,”
Giving your kid options: “You can either stop hitting me with your teddy or I’ll take the bear away.”
Try incorporating comedy into your discipline; it’s quite effective! Here are several examples of how to accomplish it.
Above all, remember that consistency is essential for successful discipline. Make an effort to link particular behaviours to precise consequences, and stick to it.
What You Should Do Next:
1. Subscribe To My Parenting NewsletterSign Up For My Parenting Newsletter for tips on creating a happier home and becoming a more positive parent. As a bonus when you subscribe you’ll get a copy of my FREE Growth Mindset Printout For Kids which is the KEY to raising resilient kids with a growth mindset.
2. Register For A Pretty Awesome FREE 60-Minute Class:Register for a free class called GET KIDS TO LISTEN THE RIGHT WAY; an exclusive FREE class from nationally recognized parenting coach, Amy McCready.
3. Sign Up For A 7 Step Positive Parenting CourseEnroll now in the most in-depth parenting class. After discovering these common sense, easy-to-implement, research-based tools you can learn how to:
- Easily get kids to listen – the FIRST time. No yelling or reminding…not even once!
- Put an end to daily power struggles. Bedtime became a breeze, and all the dawdling, chore wars, sibling rivalry, and mealtime meltdowns disappeared.
- Reduce backtalk by HALF! It’s simple once you know the secrets of these two ‘buckets.’
- Say goodbye to punishments that DON’T work. There’s a 5-step formula that works WAYYY better than time-outs.
- Feel amazing, confident, and empowered as a parent, every day. I NEVER go to bed feeling guilty anymore! (Okay, well maybe sometimes…’ mom guilt’ is still a thing.)
More Discipline Tips
- How To Teach Lessons Through Discipline Instead Of Shame
- Mistakes You May Be Making When Responding To Tantrums
- 5 Powerful Responses For Backtalk
- How You May Accidentally Be Raising Ungrateful Children (And how To Fix That)
- What Is Positive Discipline: 6 Simple Techniques To Use At Home
- Setting Consequences For Kids Who Do Not Care About Consequences
- Is Positive Parenting Solutions Parenting Course Worth It? (Yes…But Why?)
- Natural Consequences You Should Allow Your Children To Experience
- 8 Easy Ways To Battle The “I Can’t Do It” Attitude
- Tips For Parenting An Angry Child
- 2.Potegal M, Davidson R. Temper tantrums in young children: 1. Behavioral composition. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2003;24(3):140-147. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12806225
- 3.Greenough WT, Black JE, Wallace CS. Experience and Brain Development. Child Development. Published online June 1987:539. doi:10.2307/1130197
- 4.Porges SW, Furman SA. The early development of the autonomic nervous system provides a neural platform for social behaviour: a polyvagal perspective. Inf Child Develop. Published online April 22, 2010:106-118. doi:10.1002/icd.688
- 5.Gunnar MR. Quality of Early Care and Buffering of Neuroendocrine Stress Reactions: Potential Effects on the Developing Human Brain. Preventive Medicine. Published online March 1998:208-211. doi:10.1006/pmed.1998.0276
- 6.Denham SA, Blair KA, DeMulder E, et al. Preschool Emotional Competence: Pathway to Social Competence? Child Development. Published online February 2003:238-256. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00533
- 7.Spinrad TL, Eisenberg N, Cumberland A, et al. Relation of emotion-related regulation to children’s social competence: A longitudinal study. Emotion. Published online 2006:498-510. doi:10.1037/1528-35220.127.116.118
- 8.Trentacosta C, Shaw D. Emotional Self-Regulation, Peer Rejection, and Antisocial Behavior: Developmental Associations from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence. J Appl Dev Psychol. 2009;30(3):356-365. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20161105
- 9.Morris AS, Silk JS, Steinberg L, Myers SS, Robinson LR. The Role of the Family Context in the Development of Emotion Regulation. Social Development. Published online May 2007:361-388. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2007.00389.x
- 10.Schore A. Attachment and the regulation of the right brain. Attach Hum Dev. 2000;2(1):23-47. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11707891
- 11.Denham SA, Mitchell-Copeland J, Strandberg K, Auerbach S, Blair K. Motivation and Emotion. Published online 1997:65-86. doi:10.1023/a:1024426431247
- 12.Derryberry D, Tucker DM. Neural mechanisms of emotion. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Published online 1992:329-338. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.60.3.329
- 13.Hariri A, Bookheimer S, Mazziotta J. Modulating emotional responses: effects of a neocortical network on the limbic system. Neuroreport. 2000;11(1):43-48. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10683827
- 14.Eisenberger NI. The Neural Bases of Social Pain. Psychosomatic Medicine. Published online 2012:126-135. doi:10.1097/psy.0b013e3182464dd1
- 15.Tucker D, Luu P, Pribram K. Social and emotional self-regulation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1995;769:213-239. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8595027
- 16.N/a N. Temper tantrums. Medline Plus. Published 2016. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001922.htm