When your little munchkin becomes a toddler, s/he becomes more aware of their surroundings. They will start trying to explore and experiment with whatever is around them. For them, this experimenting may involve touching, throwing, and breaking. They don’t know that what they are doing is wrong. They need to be corrected when they do something wrong and when they do something right, they should be rewarded. Since their minds are still young, they will take time to understand these things. The key is to be patient and keep correcting them gently.
When to start?
You can start disciplining your baby when they are old enough to sit up and have a conversation with you. This may start as early as 1 - 1.5 years. This is the age when they would start misbehaving without realising that what they are doing is wrong. But at the same time, they will understand what they are being told and will not back down when told so.
How to start?
Every parent has a unique parenting style. But the method of disciplining a child remains universal. The deed requires a lot of patience. You may have to repeat some things a few times for them to understand. You may even have to give them little punishments for when they don’t listen - like no dessert today or no watching cartoons. Here are a couple of ways to correct your child written in increasing order of harshness.
Redirecting their attention
When they do something wrong, you can gently redirect them to do something else. For example, if you catch them trying to draw on the wall, you can give them some paper to draw on. As a reward for them following your suggestions/advice, you could pin their drawings up on the fridge or cupboard and then show it off to everyone who visits your house. This way, they will know that drawing on paper is more rewarding.
If they want to do something in the kitchen, you could give them a couple of paper plates, plastic spoons and cups to play with. If they want to jump on the bed, you could instead offer to take them out to the park or to roll a ball on the ground to each other.
Give them a timeout
There are going to be times when your toddler simply won’t listen to you or whatever you have to say. They are going to try and get their way - one way or another. You might have told them 2 or more times not to do something, and yet they went ahead and did it. This is the time when you have to be a little stern with them. Again, they are very young so don’t shout or raise your voice at them. Just give them a timeout.
Simply lift them up and place them on a chair for a minute. Ask them not to speak or say anything. You could give them a timeout for 2 - 3 minutes, not more. After the timeout, you can ask them why they think they were given a timeout. If they don’t say it, you could repeat it. As the days go on, they would realise that a timeout is given whenever they seem to disobey you.
Confiscate a toy
When a child is being unreasonable, then you can threaten to take their toys away. If they still refuse to listen to you, then take their toy away for a whole day. When they start crying when you take the toy away, you can reason with them, saying that you will return it if and only if they don’t repeat the mistake again.