At 17 months now, my son is quite the little character. He’s a bundle of emotions, coming up with new actions every day and, of course, the occasional behavioral outburst. He’s started throwing fits on occasion, which we simply ignore in the hopes he’ll quickly learn that isn’t a good tactic for getting his way around here. There are a few things he does, however, that we’ve had to start disciplining him for: throwing things at people (and at the occasional pet that gets in his way), climbing on top of furniture and opening the front door in an attempt to escape into the street.
We’ve already become pretty adept at the art of distraction, but some of the more egregious behavior required actual discipline. How on earth do you get a one-year-old to behave? We looked into some toddler disclipline ideas and starting incorporating some of the more obvious ones into our routine: setting certain unyielding limits, firmly saying the word “no,” and occasionally resorting to a one-minute timeout.
The whole discipline thing at first seemed like a complete failure. The kid seemed to actually enjoy getting us to say “no,” even with all the stern-faced seriousness we could muster. Limits to him initially meant nothing unless there was a physical barrier between him and the object he wanted to climb on, and every time I’d take him out of timeout he would immediately do the exact thing that got him in there to begin with. I was running out of options and pretty positive none of this would work, in spite of my husband’s urges to keep at it and develop a stronger will than our determined little toddler.
Then one day it all just seemed to click and my son started doing little things that surprised me. He started gently holding his sippy cup out towards the cat, instead of chucking it directly at her head like he used to. He still climbs up on the end tables but cries the minute he gets up there and remembers (as we’ve told him so many times) that it’s a dangerous place he’s not supposed to be. The other day I gestured for him to follow me out the front door and he stood at the entryway, shaking his head and holding his hand out for me to accompany him. He knows he’s not supposed to cross that threshold alone. It worked! Slowly but surely our repeated discipline and firm messages had sunk in. Now whenever he starts acting out with a new behaviour, we have faith in our convictions and stick to our discipline plan. We know full well that it won’t work the first time. But the fourth, fifth, sixth time…it does finally pay off.
Have your kids ever made you doubt your skills as a disciplinarian? Any particular tactics or progress that helped you stick with it and get your children to behave?