When your toddler is throwing things at his playmates to see their reaction, you may think it is time for some discipline. The truth is, your young toddler isn’t throwing a truck at Suzy to hurt her. He is interested in cause and effect, and is therefore not ready to understand impulse control and discipline.
Instead of looking at disciplining your one-year old, think of it as setting limits instead. For example, when he raises his arm to throw the truck, take the truck from him and say “No”. Explain to him that throwing things at people hurts them. He will eventually catch on.
If you have a particularly willful child, you may have to say “No” several times a day. If you’re lucky, it may be less, depending on his personality.
What does it mean to set limits? First of all, baby proof your home. This will remove any dangerous temptations from your toddler, and will keep you from having to say “No” every five minutes.
When he cries for a cookie and he’s already had his limit, simply repeat “No cookie” and redirect him. Distraction and redirection is the best technique in controlling toddlers under age 2. Distract him by showing him a healthier snack, like a banana.
When your toddler reaches age 2, you can begin to introduce the concept of time out. Experts say to give your child one minute of time out for every year old they are. For example, when your 3 year old gets time out, it should be for 3 minutes.
A two year old is really too young to sit in time out for two minutes. That is like an eternity to them. Make it more like 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remember they are just starting to learn about the effects their behavior has on others, so give them some time to catch on.
Instead of having a time out chair, have your toddler stop where they are and rest their head on the floor. This will introduce the concept of calming themselves down, rather than introducing a “place of punishment”.
When they reach age 2, continue to use distraction and redirection as much as possible. As they learn to understand consequences, you can gradually introduce time out to them. Introduce time out by role playing with a stuffed animal. Show them that Mr. Bear needs a break and its time for time out. Encourage your child to lay with Mr. Bear while he calms down.
When the child goes in time out, tell him why and then leave him be to think about it. Do not give him any attention, negative or positive when he is in time out. Once he is out of time out, move on. Don’t dwell on his past behavior, as toddlers seem to forget the past quickly. Repetition is key when teaching your toddler how to behave.