5 Tips on Positive Discipline for Toddlers

Posted by Melissa Robertson-Bye on

The transition from Baby to Toddler is interesting. Your toddler is understanding more of what you say, they are exploring more, and they are starting to test their limits. Here are 5 tips on positive discipline to help during this transition that you can use as they grow!


1. Set limits and follow through

When your toddler starts to test their limits by climbing on a table or throwing toys let them know what your expectations are. For example, our daughter loved to climb on the table. Our expectation was that her feet needed to stay on the floor. Everytime she would climb on the table we would state our expectation and remove her from the table. We had to do this many times but eventually she picked up that she was not allowed to climb on the table. And, we finally got to the point that when she would climb on the table all we needed to do was remind her and she would get off the table. This does take patience and requires you to stick to your limits with your child.


2. No Exploding

This has to be the hardest tip. After a long day at work your toddler looks at you while holding their cup over the side of the high chair. They have that look on their face and you know what is coming. You know that the milk is going to be on your floor in a few moments. As the cup hits the floor and milk goes everywhere it is hard not to yell or scream out. Instead of reacting, take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment and think of why your child might have done this. Chances are they were trying to get your attention, and they knew that even though this would make you upset, they would get a response from you. Having them help clean up the milk will let them know it is not okay to drop their milk.

This is hard especially as your toddler becomes a 4-year old with an attitude. 


3. Establish simple boundaries

Keep your boundaries simple and positive. Instead of No running in the house simply say “We walk inside.” “No hitting your sister” can be “We use gentle hands.” The average toddler hears the word “no” more than 400 times a day. Studies have shown that the more a child hears “no” the poorer their language skills are. To help develop language see #5.


4. Redirection

This was always my favourite both at home and when I was working in child care. Your toddler is playing, they start to toddle over to the glass doors with a toy in their hands. They take the toy and start to bang on the door. This is a great time to redirect your child back to the toy area and let them know that toys stay on the floor. Just like setting limits you will have to repeat this one over and over again and each different time they do this.


5. Positive Reinforcement

Everyone loves positive reinforcement! We excel more when we hear that we are doing a good job then when we are told that we can do better. When your toddler is playing nice on the floor or is being gentle with the cat let them know. When they ate the broccoli that you weren’t sure they would, send them some praise. Hearing positive reinforcement also helps with vocabulary development and self confidence.

Each of these tips take time to implement. We suggest picking one to start with and slowly easing into all five. Not only will the bond between you and your toddler grow stronger, but discipline will be much easier and not as hard on you as a parent.

If you have a tip for positive discipline for your toddler please leave it in the comment section!