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7 Secrets of Toddler Discipline

Just saying “no” doesn’t always work. How to get your child to live and learn -- and not lose your cool in the process.
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4. Practice the Art of Distraction

Make your toddler's short attention span work for you. When your child throws the ball against the dining room wall for the 10th time after you've said to stop, it's pretty easy to redirect your child to a more productive activity, like trading the ball for a favorite book or moving the game outside.

Rex Forehand, the Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher Professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont and author of Parenting the Strong-Willed Child, says, "[Parents] need to create an environment that is most conducive to good toddler behavior. If they're into something they're not supposed to do, the idea is not to punish them but to get another activity going or pick them up and put them in another room."

5. Give Your Child a Break

Time-outs are one of the foundations of child discipline, but they may not be the best approach for the toddler stage. The negative implication of being sent away can teach kids that they're bad rather than promote good behavior.

If you do give your child a time-out, limit it to just a minute or two at this age. Instead of calling it a time-out, which can be confusing to children under 3, refer to it as something more positive.

Lerner suggests creating a "cozy corner," a safe place free from distractions and stimulation where your child can just chill out for a few minutes until he or she can get back in control. That time away can help you regroup as well.

Correct bad behaviors, but also take the time to praise good behaviors. Asta says, "If you don't tell your child when they're doing the right thing, sometimes they'll do the wrong thing just to get attention."  When you tell your toddler he or she has done something good, there's a good chance your child will want to do it again.

6. Stay Calm

It’s easy for your blood pressure to reach the boiling point when you’re in the middle of watching your child throw a tantrum. But losing control will quickly escalate an already stressful situation. Give yourself some time to cool off, Forehand says. "Otherwise, you're venting your own anger. In the end that's going to make you, as a parent, feel worse and guilty. And it's not going to do your child any good."

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