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Posted by: Sharmila Rajah, 26-Sep-2009


With Ayanna testing the limits so often, I can't help but wonder how and what discipline is. Is there a right or wrong method? One thing I know smacking is not my thing. More on that later but for now, let's explore discipline; what and how it is like to discipline a toddler.

When we think discipline, the first image that comes to mind is that of punishment, threats and anger. Funnily the word discipline, means to teach.

Why is it so important to discipline a toddler -

  • to instill an understanding of the concept of right and wrong

  • to plant the seeds of self-control

  • to teach respect for the rights and feelings of others

  • to increase your child's chances of growing up a happy adult (since the real world is full of rules)

When it comes to discipline, I constantly remind myself that

  • every child is different, each circumstance is different so I would have to treat each individually.

  • I cant' rely on a toddler's obedience as they're not old enough to understand what is safe/ not.

  • It is important to let Ayanna know that even when her behaviour may not lovable, she is still loved.

  • I will not be extreme in my method of discipline: too much parental policing or overly permissive styles can leave toddlers feeling unloved.

  • Consistency is important so I try to enforce the same limits all the time.

  • Following up is important as toddlers rely on repetition to remember.

  • A no is necessary but I try to provide an alternative. For example, “You can't play with Mummy's books but let's read your favourite book together.”

  • Ayanna needs to be allowed to make mistakes as she learns and explores.

  • Praising and rewarding her with love and affection is always important especially when it involves good behaviour.

  • Ayanna needs to be treated with respect – I use the polite words with Ayanna just as she is expected to use it, offer simple explanations and listen to her.

Setting limits that are fair and enforcing them firmly but lovingly is the key. Tailor your style to the situation as well as your child.

What are your discipline methods? How effective are they – care to share?

More on this later.

  • Totally agree with you plus parents need to understand that our kids are not intentionally test our patience. They are just simply curious and imitate what they saw, influence can be from your neighbor, from their siblings and most probably from the people they adore which is you!

    Let them know what is good and what is bad when they are doing it. Not after as most of us do.

    Understand that they need constant reminder as same as adult do. If our spouse at times fail to understand us, do not expect our kids have super power to understand us all the time. Respect them and your respect will be gained.

  • Some very good pointers Sharmila. I especially like the ones on providing alternatives instead of just going "No", as well as having a sense of mutual respect.

    There's an interesting article in the Holland Sentinel about punishment and communication in disciplining kids:

    I think it makes another good point, that whatever the method parents use to instill discipline, they have to be united and consistent.


  • Dear Aishah and Mark

    Thanks so much for sharing. It's amazing how much I'm learning from your comments and input.

    Keep on reading.