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Posted by: Sharmila Rajah


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.

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