Toddler Discipline: Where to Begin on Day 1

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This is a follow up to my post When Your Toddler’s Behavior is a Problem. My previous post was about my realization of how I was doing a disservice to my son, by not training him to obey.

Implementing Toddler Discipline is needed for my toddler’s safety, like obeying when I tell him not to go into the road. First, I made a list of the behaviors that I needed to start dealing with!

Using Child Training and Discipline to Correct Toddler Behaviors: Where to Start and How to Make a Plan that is Best for Your Family #toddler #toddlerbehavior #toddlerdiscipline #baby

In this post, I’ll explain what the very first day of child training & toddler discipline can look like. 

I knew I had to start small! First, My husband and I made a list of all the problem behaviors we wanted to address with our toddler. Then, we circled what we would be working on with him Day and Week 1.

We made a plan together so that we would be consistent with our toddler training and discipline. Next, we talked about the expectations for our son and the consequences we would give. 

We picked just a couple of behaviors to address at first because…ya know that saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, well my toddler’s behavior wouldn’t be all better in one day either. 

For each behavior, we talked about what we wanted to teach our son to do instead.

So part of my list says “undesired behavior” to define the problem behavior and “replacement behavior” for what we want to see him do instead. For the full list of the toddler behaviors we were dealing with, see my post When Your Toddler’s Behavior is a Problem.

Again, this was DAY 1 of implementing Toddler Discipline…because I avoided it for wayyyy too long. 

-I was being very repetitive in showing my son what I wanted from him. This was the first day and this was all new to him!

-I had to TEACH for a while before implementing any consequences. I would show him over and over and over what I was wanting from him. 

-It is so important to come up with YOUR PLAN and consequences. What do you feel comfortable with? What’s your parenting style? What does your child respond best to?

-My child may respond differently than yours. Many factors play in parenting styles and what is best for your child’s personality, etc. 

-The behaviors I listed below are about showing my child what I expected of him. In the days following, I implemented age-appropriate consequences when needed. 

My advice is to start with just a couple of behaviors at first and be consistent with your training…EVERYDAY.

-It will get annoying for you, having to consistently tell them over and over and over what is expected. But, it works! (As a public school teacher, this was the best way my kids learned. By me, the teacher, being super repetitive!)

Using Child Training and Discipline to Correct Toddler Behaviors: Where to Start and How to Make a Plan that is Best for Your Family #toddler #toddlerbehavior #toddlerdiscipline #baby

During Meals: Throwing Food

Undesired Behavior: My son throws food he does not want on to the floor.

Replacement Behavior: For my son to instead say or use sign language to signal he is “all done” when he is finished eating. If there is something he doesn’t want to eat, he can set it to the side of his tray. 

Teaching him to Obey: First I explained to my son what I wanted from him. I don’t know if he understood, but I told him throwing food on the floor was a “no”. Instead of giving him his entire plate of food at once, I gave him one or two pieces of food at a time and sat right next to him.

As soon as he made the motion like he was about to throw something, I caught his hand and made him put the food down to the side of his plate. I warned him saying “That is no. We do not throw our food. Put it here”. 

The next time he tried to throw his food, I again reminded him “This is no. Do not throw your food. Put it here.” while I guided his hand to put the food on his tray. 

After I guided his hand to put the food to the side of his tray, I praised him! I told him “thank you” and that he did a good job! Make sure to use LOTS AND LOTS OF PRAISE when your child does something correctly, even if you are guiding them to do it with your own hand. 

*After showing him what I wanted for several days, I added in consequences to continue the correction. Do what works best for your family. 

 

Blanket Time: Teaching Boundaries

Undesired Behavior: My son has no concept of boundaries. He does not know what it means if I tell him he can’t go in a certain room or even into the road! 

Replacement Behavior: We want our son to stay in a different area and not run towards the off-limits area that we told him “is no”. 

Teaching him to Obey: We are teaching our son about boundaries using “blanket time”.

I took a throw blanket and put it on the floor. I put several toys and books on top of the blanket for him to play with.

Next, I held him and pointed to the middle of the blanket saying “this is yes”. Then, I pointed to the floor on all four sides outside the blanket and said: “This is no”. 

I put him down on top of the blanket and I sat just off to the side of the blanket. Every time he tried to run off, I set him back down on the blanket and said: “this is yes”.

I had a timer set for 5 minutes. I praised him whenever he was playing on the blanket.

Until he gets the hang of it, I’ll interact with him while he’s on the blanket. I’ll play toys with him and read him one of the books, all while constantly praising him if he’s on the blanket. Eventually, the goal is to be able to leave the room for a minute and he will stay put without me right there. 

He tried to run off of it several times when I did it. I corrected him by putting him back on the blanket and praised him when he was sitting on it again. Then I repeated which areas were yes and which were no. 

*After showing him what I wanted from him for several days, I added in consequences to continue the correction. Do what works best for your family. 

Example of Blanket Time

This is something I want to try to do every day. I am establishing “this is yes” and “this is no”. He is learning boundaries and where he can and cannot go without permission.

Plus, it’s only for five minutes so it would be easy to squeeze into our daily routine. 

One day, I hope I can point to the road and say “this is no” and he will understand what that means. But, of course, I will always still be within arms reach because Toddlers don’t always listen, even with the best of training! 

Using Child Training and Discipline to Correct Toddler Behaviors: Where to Start and How to Make a Plan that is Best for Your Family #toddler #toddlerbehavior #toddlerdiscipline #baby

Laundry & Dishes: Leaving Objects Alone

Undesired Behavior: My son tries to take the dishes out of the dishwasher if I have it open. The same with the dryer. He is either trying to climb in it, take things out of it, or shove toys in them.

Replacement Behavior: To not touch the dishwasher or dryer. He can stand and watch me, but not to touch either without permission. 

Teaching him to Obey: Usually, I do the laundry or load/unload the dishwasher in the morning while he is eating breakfast.

But since I am sitting and keeping a careful eye on him while he learns he can’t throw food on the floor, I’m not able to get these things done when I usually do.

So that means when I was working on the dishes and the laundry, he wanted to be right with me. I told him “no-touch” and took his hand off of the dishwasher the first time. He continued to try to touch it, so I kept repeating myself and removing his hand.  

I praised him when he was standing next to me and not touching the dishwasher or the clothes in the dryer. Eventually, he got tired of hearing no and went and played in his playroom!

*After showing him what I want for several days, I added in consequences to continue the correction. Do what works best for your family. 

The First Day of Toddler Discipline Tips:

-Do what is best for your child, there are not a one-size-fits-all solution for discipline!

-Remember PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE, when they make good choices!

-You need to be CONSISTENT so your child doesn’t get confused. Don’t give consequences only half the time for the same behavior. 

-Be on the same page with your spouse! 

-Use whatever age-appropriate consequences you agree with. 

-And most importantly, this parenting style isn’t for everyone. So, please move along if this offends you. I promise I am not forcing you to do this with your child. This works for us and our son is completely cherished and adored, even though we do tell him no sometimes.

For More Information on Toddler Discipline

It’s just the first day of child training and I know it’s going to take a while to see significant improvement.

Today I am thankful for the small wins like not having food on the floor after a meal. Although our dog is not as happy about it. 

There are so many ways to deal with your child’s behaviors. This is just what I’m doing now, it will probably evolve and change.

I hope the first day of teaching my child to obey and my tips on toddler discipline are helpful for you and your little one too! 

*This post has become pretty popular and I’ve been sent many great questions! I wrote an additional post linked here, explaining how we addressed my son running away when asked to come to us, teaching him to walk instead of run, and hitting others. It also covers some of my most frequently asked questions since starting this child training and toddler discipline journey! 

Since all children are different, a great resource is a book called Parenting a Strong-Willed Child. It is a 5-week program for parents of kids 2 to 6 years old. It elaborates on specific behavior issues and the different factors to consider to decide what discipline is best for each of your children. What I do with my toddler, may not be what’s best for yours. This book has many more suggestions! 

Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for ParentsParenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for ParentsParenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents

Or you could get this book for free by signing up for a 30 day free trial with Audible! Just for trying Audible you get 2 free Audiobooks, and Parenting a Strong-Willed Child is a book you can choose from. Listen to the book anytime and anywhere! Great for listening in the car! 

 

Check out some of my other blog posts!

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How to Start Toddler Discipline for Toddler Behavior Problems on Day 1!

Using Child Training and Discipline to Correct Toddler Behaviors: Where to Start and How to Make a Plan that is Best for Your Family #toddler #toddlerbehavior #toddlerdiscipline #baby

25 thoughts on “Toddler Discipline: Where to Begin on Day 1”

  1. What do you do when besides your husband, there are 2 other frequent caregivers (while we’re working). Plus hubby will NOT come to an agreement about our reactions. First time ever we can’t comprise. If I’m consistent in my reactions, will that still work when I’m with him and trying to direct behavior? He definitely acts differently when I’m home.

    1. I had this concern too once I went back to work after maternity leave-Even when my son was a baby! My parents kept our son full time and I wanted us to all be on the same page. Like not ALWAYS holding him while he naps so he didn’t get used to it, etc. But, they did things differently!
      My advice would be yes, to be as consistent as YOU can when you are with your child/children.
      (Depending on the situation you could try to get the caregivers to support you in some areas. Like if they come to your house to watch your kids, letting the caregivers know if your child hits to tell them “we do not hit” and 2 minutes of time out, or whatever you do. I know Daycare is different and cannot be as flexible.)
      Even though my husband and I came up with a plan, I can still unfortunately be more relaxed than my husband is with discipline. I notice it when my son wants a snack before dinner, he will bring something to me to open and not my husband, because he knows I’m more likely to give it to him than Dad. He’s figured us out at 2 years old! So, I’ve still got a lot of growth to do with this as well, and not let bad behaviors go when I’m tired, etc. I hope this makes sense! Although expectations and consequences might be different from person to person for your child, I think he or she will still benefit and learn from knowing “with mom I can and cannot do this, or xyz will happen”.

      1. I love that you say no. I read so many books and talked to so many people advising me to NEVER say no! As a mother of three I have to say no is something that they NEED to hear. I’m struggling with a super spoiled two year old who is the baby in every way possible. He is funny and adored and waited on and I enjoyed reading what you are doing. It’s great motivation for what I know we as a family ALL need to be in on together. I know what we will be discussing for family night! Thanks Momma!

        1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I hear ya, I get plenty of emails from people who don’t agree with “No”. But, I think very clear boundaries are so important and healthy! This training mentality has gone well for us so far! And it’s so hard not to spoil these sweet babies when they are just so cuteeeee. -Lauren

    1. Hi, Thanks for asking! I used to have a whole section on possible consequences in this blog post. But, I’ve since deleted it because I got nasty emails from people who didn’t agree with some of the options. So, I just said to do what is best for you and your family!
      However, My suggestions were (and hopefully people won’t come after me again for this)
      -a consequence that fits the crime like if your child throws a tantrum while playing outside, then it’s time to go inside.
      -time out or a cool down spot for the number of minutes your child is old. 2 year old= 2 minutes
      -spanking, which is super controversial. If done, never out of anger and I would suggest using a spank spoon (or something like that) and not your hand. Also, never hard enough to leave a mark.
      *Many people don’t agree with time out or spanking. So these are just options 🙂

  2. Thank you…for saying and doing things that many people/popular opinion, don’t agree with as acceptable. I’ve seen so many blogs and articles extoll the virtues of telling 2yr olds in explicit adult language what behavior is appropriate. Or other options for managing the natural learning processes and behaviors of toddlers. None of them made sense. I just don’t understand why people cannot think for themselves.

    1. Thank you for your comment! And just because we explain to our son what is appropriate and what isn’t, doesn’t mean he isn’t absolutely cherished and adored. Some emails I get seem to paint me as a monster because I tell him “no” instead of redirecting. He is such a joy that we want to keep safe, which to us means learning what “yes” and “no” mean. Also as a former public school teacher, I wished more parents taught their children what was appropriate when they were younger.

      1. In my opinion teaching children “yes” and “no” is a vital piece of shaping them into a respectable person when they are adults in the adult world we are told “no” all the time and as an adult throwing a fit because we are told “no” isn’t okay and I. The adult world other people aren’t going to not tell you “no” and Redirect you instead. So if your child never gets used to and understand that being told no isn’t the end of the world it won’t be the end of the world when they enter the adult world and are told no for the first few times and damn near have mental breakdowns. The adult world is hard enough with out the shock of learning no when you first walk in or even going to school and hearing no. I believe in Re-directing after being told no. For example “No you can’t touch the stove but you can play with your cars” but I don’t feel that just re-directing with out saying no is enough.

        1. I completely agree with your comment, thanks for sharing! As a former public school teacher, I experienced first hand when I was probably the first person to tell a child “no” before. I also agree with redirecting after being corrected is acceptable! I’m just not a fan of only redirecting.

  3. Thank you for addressing this issue because I’ve been on the verge of a nervous breakdown with my son, Ryder who is 2 1/2. He literally does EVERY SINGLE ONE of the things you mentioned in your previous post regarding the negative behaviors that your son has in which this post refers to, but those aren’t even the worst of the behaviors my son has

    1. Hang in there, Mama! My son’s behaviors have improved significantly once we made a a plan for correcting behaviors and have stuck to it! My son didn’t know these things weren’t acceptable until I taught him! Sometimes I get people writing me saying that my son must be autistic (which the irony in those messages seeing that I was a special education teacher and they were telling me I needed to look into testing, don’t people think I would be aware…haha!) But no it isn’t autism, it was a toddler that had never been told he couldn’t do something. The behaviors continued to grow and got out of hand, which is no fault of his own. The first few weeks will be the hardest when you start something new with him, but stick to it! Thanks for reaching out!

  4. Great article! My 3 children are adults with their own families now. My 1st born was my most strong willed. As an adult, he will tell you quickly that had I not been hard on him, there’s no telling where he’d be! What a blessing to FINALLY hear!? I have a small daycare/babysitting in my home. I’ve raised a LOT of children. I find that the parents nowadays want to be their child’s BFF vs the parent. I see very little respect these days and hear tons of compliments from parents because the child won’t mind them. ?

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I get a ton of backlash from these posts because a lot of people are redirecting children instead of saying no and setting boundaries. As a public school teacher, I wished more parents played an active role in teaching their children right from wrong. I still have so much to learn and am not the master of discipline, however I realized I had been making big parenting mistakes that needed some change. I’m hoping one day my son will thank me too! 🙂

  5. This was so helpful. I know that in the previous article you said that your son is about to turn 2; do you think 14 months is too young to start this training? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about the behavior issues we’re having, but you seem to be having a lot of the same ones! Do you think that he will understand at only 14 months?

    1. Thank you for your comment! I have several friends in my church community that started child training around 6 months, they started doing blanket time as soon as baby could crawl! I wish I had started much earlier, so maybe the behaviors wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand by 2 years old. Remember to be patient, repetitive, and train with a joyful spirit (the first few days can be so frustrating for Mama at any age). Start small and let me know how it goes! You got this!

  6. I am eager to hear what you did to teach your son to not run away when you call him. When I call for my 2 year old to come he usually thinks it a game and runs away. I always follow through and go after him and try to teach him to come when called, but it’s been months of this and I’m tired of “the chase.” When he does come when called he is always greatly praised.
    I loved your methods and am curious what you did…

    1. Thank you for your comment! This is a tough one, and honestly we are still working on it. For the teaching part, my husband will take his hand and THEN say “come to Mama” and walk him over to me. Then, I over-the-top praise him, hug him, tell him what a good job he did and say “good job coming to Mama”. I’ll do the same thing and walk him to my husband as well. Or I’ll reach across and pull him to me when he’s in arms reach by myself, doing the same thing with praise. I’m not telling him to come to me until AFTER one of us has a hold of him because when he would hear “come to _____” he took that as his cue to run and laugh. So we don’t say it until we have hold of him, just for the teaching/training part of it. The goal is to do that repetitively over and over so he has an understanding of what we are asking of him. Once you’ve done this for awhile and you believe he’s got a good understanding of it, start in with the consistent consequences when you’ve asked him to come and he runs. I hope this helps! And we definitely don’t have this one mastered yet.

  7. Thanks for a sharing this, Lauren. When I had toddlers, one of the first things I taught them was “hot”. I held their hand to my coffee cup (not burning and never left within a child’s reach) and when they pulled back, I would say “hot”. The next day, I would point to my cup and say “hot”. I did this with all my grandkids, too. The sensation of “hot” became the first warning word in teaching them not to touch/do something dangerous – the beginning of “no”.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I wish I had done something like that MUCH sooner!

      I learned the hard way after my son almost poured frying bacon on his face!! It was SO scary! Then I started keeping pans on the stove with the handle out, and the stove OFF, to tell him “no touch” and “hot” for several days following that incident to keep it from happening again! I like your idea too! Then I wouldn’t have to stand by the stove in order to teach the word hot!

  8. Thanks for your great post! I’m a mother of 7 and did so many of these things with my older kids. As life has gotten busier, I’ve forgotten to slow down and do these things with my 2 youngest. Your post reminded me to slow down and make time for these things!

  9. Wow!!! I saw this randomly on Pinterest and I needed this blog in my life! I feel like the terrible 2’s have started at 15 months with my little guy. So THANK YOU for this. My husband and I are definitely going to be trying blanket time and gentle hands ♡

  10. Loved this! My daughter just turned 12 months but is starting to have tantrums and throw food. Is she old enough to start this? If so what would you suggest as consequences. Not into spanking but don’t know if time outs are right for us at this age either.

    1. Thanks for reading! Those are 2 really great questions that I’ve gotten very often. You can look at this post for a longer answer. But yes, I’ve seen child training start as soon as a baby starts crawling. For a year-old, time out would only be 1 minute since it is usually how many minutes the child is old. I would put my son in his crib. I didn’t want him to see his crib as a place of punishment but as a place to calm down. He liked his crib and he loved his pacis. So when he was having a tantrum at home, I would put him in his crib with pacis and it would help him calm down. But I guess you could still call that time out since he was removed from what was causing the tantrum. Or you could do “punishment that fits the crime” depending on what seems to be triggering the behavior. If your toddler throws a tantrum because she wants to watch a different show on tv, the tv is turned off altogether. Hope this helps!

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