Now that Adeline is almost 2.5, she’s full steam ahead in toddler behavior. Tantrums, meltdowns, independence, you name it. And while it’s certainly not always negative (She really is a pretty well behaved kid for the most part, and is oh so sweet the majority of the time!) it’s been a learning experience for all of us no doubt, and I think we learn something new everyday about how to deal with it. We learn from Adeline, and Adeline learns from us. I try to think of it as a two way street, but we’re truly flying by the seat of our pants most days! Even though every scenario is different, I do think we’ve found our tried-and-true methods of discipline that Adeline responds best to, and I wanted to share what’s been working for us. I’m linking up with my tribe of mom bloggers, if you will, and hope you’ll hop over to their posts on this topic as well!
I wanted to reiterate that this isn’t going to be a polarizing spanking vs not spanking post (although we’re definitely not against a good firm flick or bottom whack every now and then! Ha!), or a yelling vs not yelling post. I’m not here to judge how other parents handle discipline in their home, but I did want to share my thoughts on maybe why what we’re doing, does work for us. I’m clearly no authority, so take it or leave it! Every toddler has such a unique personality, and responds so differently to different forms of discipline. What works for Adeline, doesn’t work for some of her cousins, and vice versa. Heck, it might not even work with baby brother!
Ignore it or remove it
Our first line of defense is usually to just ignore the poor behavior. We figure it we laugh at it, or affirm her somehow, it’s only going to further encourage it. So, there’s a lot of times where we simply ignore the behavior, or even just remove her from the situation completely. When she realizes that no, we’re not laughing at her sticking her tongue out at us, and no it’s not lady-like to spit your food out, she usually stops pretty quick.
This method explains itself. If you do this, then you can’t do this. ALL THE TIME. She responds really well to this because she knows she won’t get what she wants if she continues doing XYZ.
Set a timer
Setting a timer was something that I tried on the playground one time when she refused to leave. I set a timer on my phone and told her when she heard the special music play, it was time to go home. It magically worked like a charm, and a few days later we used it at bedtime after we noticed bedtime was taking waaaaaay too long and our little miss was turning into quite the procrastinator. In order to reign back bedtime, and teach her that bedtime literally can’t take all night, we’ll sometimes set a timer when we sit down to rock and read our books. We tell her that when the timer goes off, it’s time to turn the lamp off, sing a song, and go night night. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it significantly helps lessen some of the outbursts that happen when she doesn’t want to get in her bed. I think it helps make the timer the “bad guy” and not us!
Get on her level
When she’s having a meltdown or throwing a tantrum, we try really hard to remember that at the root of the problem is the inability to properly express her emotions. She’s feeling all the feels and just doesn’t know how to deal with them in the moment. We often times calmly grab her, squat down, have her look at us, and try to explain that she needs to calm down, and take a deep breathe. Talking “down” at her only muddies the situation more, and she just shuts down even quicker. She responds much better if we get down on her level, and try to see eye to eye. Adam is a pro at this, and they regularly have “special talks” while we’re out and she starts behaving less than ideal.
I think the #1 form of discipline that works BEST for us right now is utilizing time out. She very quickly learned what time out meant, and she has learned that she does NOT want to be there. She’s very similar to me when I was little in that all it takes is a look of disappointment from her Daddy and a bit of a stern tone and she’s in tears, ready to shape right up! For time out, we have a specific corner in the living room where she has to go stand, face the wall, and after she’s calmed down and quit crying as heavily, we re-approach her and hug it out. We use time out anytime she does something we tell her not to, when she repeatedly ignores us, or does something ugly like kick or spit. It’s seriously been a game changer, and time out is our #1 go-to that’s really helped her behavior. (The next two points build on this)
Talk it out
After every time out, we always, always, always talk it out. We calmly explain why she’s in time out, why what she did was wrong, and ask her if she’s going to do it again. I’m a firm believer in talking it out afterwards, sort of like a debriefing, because it drives home the point even more and helps her to understand why she was in trouble. I never want to discipline her and her not understand why, because then it’s just pointless.
After we talk it out, we also always, always, always give hugs and kisses. We explain that we love her so much, and we’re just trying to do what’s best for her, and teach her what’s right and wrong.
She may be crazy independent, and every bit of 2.5, but we love our big girl so much and are so proud of who she’s becoming. She is such a joy, and we’re all just learning as we go. What works for disciplining her now, may not work when we enter the 3’s or the 4’s. Right now though, I think we’re managing pretty well!
What are your favorite toddler behavior hacks or tricks? How do you handle discipline?