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How to Discipline A Toddler Without Resorting to Spanking

How to Discipline A Toddler Without Resorting to Spanking

Spanking kids has been the most common way of disciplining children across the world. However, many pediatricians argue that this is not the most effective way to influence a change in behavior in toddlers. They might interpret spanking differently and instead of becoming cooperative, they can act up.

Even more alarming, they might become too docile and lose the confidence to express themselves for fear of retribution. If you are looking to discipline your toddler, consider the following alternative ways and approaches that might get you better results compared to spanking.

Create a reward system

Every time your toddler behaves well, offer them some sort of reward as an incentive to keep behaving well. When they misbehave, withdraw these rewards. They will soon learn that good behavior is more rewarding than bad behavior. Ensure you do not spoil them.

This type of positive reinforcement is known by psychologists to have a very beneficial outcome for children, as it removes the idea of punishment and focuses on only the good behavior.

Try a reward chart or even some chore bucks to keep your toddler excited about earning these rewards.

Create diversions

Toddlers are easily diverted by the smallest of things. When your kid is acting up, create a diversion to grab their attention and prevent them from more tantrums. For instance, start making wild noises when they start crying and they will immediately keep quiet, their attention diverted.

Other great diversions include offering a nap, taking a bath or having some food.

Ground them

Although this works best with teens and older kids, introduce your toddlers to this concept early. They will learn that some of the immediate privileges they enjoy can be taken away pretty fast when they are not behaving well.

This can mean not allowing them to play on their tablets or canceling an outing. Try not to cancel big trips, play dates or anything the child has been really looking forward to. This will break their trust and may do more harm than good. Instead, cancel only activities that happen daily or fairly regularly.

Allow them to learn from their own mistakes

In some cases, let them learn by natural consequences. For instance, if the toddler refuses to wear a jacket when going outside, let them get a little cold and they will ask for the jacket themselves. Of course, you will have to monitor this to prevent possible ailments.

There are, of course, exceptions to this idea. You wouldn’t want your child to learn that fire is hot by allowing them to get burned, for instance. But if an accident does happen, be sure to reinforce the mistake they made by going over their behavior and how it resulted in the accident. Don’t forget the cuddles as you talk it out.

Offer alternatives to the kid

Let the kid know that there are different and more effective ways of getting their point through instead of creating tantrums or misbehaving. By using a reward system, teach them how to ask for what they want in a calm way without prompting some form of punishment.

For instance, if the child is screaming for a game or toy that is not allowed, offer them two alternative activities instead. This will not only divert their attention, but it will help them to figure out that they can still have fun without the item they are after.


Have a designated space in the house where you send your toddler after he misbehaves. This should be a completely safe space free of diversions like toys or games. Pick a quiet spot so they can calm down and reflect. Try not to think of time out as a punishment, but as a space for your toddler to feel safe and calm as they work through their emotions. You can try playing soothing music or giving them a calm down jar to help them.

Teach them new skills

Instead of spanking them or sending them away for time-outs, you can teach them some new skills. For instance, maybe they misbehaved because they wanted something from you and you refused to give it to them. Teach them how to ask for such in a polite manner. Kids who ask for stuff politely are more likely to get what they want.

Every time your child misbehaves with consequences, you need to make sure they understand what they’ve done wrong and help guide them into better behavior. Talking to them and even role-playing what to do next time they are in that situation can be helpful to reinforce the behavior you want to see.

Ignore mild misbehaviors

In some cases, the kids are just acting up as a way to gain attention. Learn to ignore some of these tantrums and let them cool off by themselves. They will learn that it does not always work and look for better ways to get your attention.

Praise them when they behave well

In the same way you are quick to punish, be quick to praise the kids when they do well. This will encourage them to keep the good behavior up. Who doesn’t love praise?

Be sure you are clear about exactly what you are praising them for.

“Thank you for picking up those toys. I love how helpful you are! Keeping our home clean is so important, and you have really helped!”

“Great job on brushing your teeth tonight. You did so well! Your smile is beautiful!”

“I’m so happy that you calmed down all by yourself. You are such a great kid, and I love you so much.”

You don’t have to punish your toddler in order to curb bad behaviors. Try these very effective alternatives, and you may find that your child responds with better behavior than you could have imagined.