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Precious Beginnings - Discipline

Q. Is my 2-year-old daughter too young to be disciplined?

A. No, she is not. However, the discipline you use with your 2-year-old is much different from what you would use if she were 5 or 6. Giving your toddler more attention is a good way to reinforce positive behaviors. Make sure your daughter sees that her good behaviors result in positive responses from you. When her behavior is bad, try to redirect her behavior or have her practice an opposite, positive behavior. Don't expect immediate results right away; learning takes time. Just try to be consistent, firm and fair.

Q. When my child is having a tantrum, it is hard for me to correct him. Is there anything I can do?

A. Wait until both of you calm down; it will be easier for you to give a consequence for the misbehavior and teach him better ways of behaving. When he's calm, he will be able to listen and learn more easily.

Q. My daughter enjoys getting my attention by doing bad things. Consequences don't seem to work. What's the best way to handle this?

A. Kids crave any kind of attention, positive or negative. If you pay more attention to misbehaviors than to good behaviors, your child will probably misbehave because that's how she gets your attention. Try to recognize your daughter's good behavior more often and minimize the attention you give to her negative behavior.

Q. Sometimes I get so upset, I overreact to my child's bad behavior. How can I stay calm and prevent this from happening?

A. When you're really upset, take a break. A minute or two of deep-breathing might be enough to calm you down. Once you're calm, give your child a consequence. (Put your child in time-out or put his or her favorite toy in time-out.) Try to have a few different consequences prepared beforehand. Knowing your options can keep you from overreacting in "the heat of battle."

Q. I feel like a wimp because I have a hard time disciplining my child. How can I get better at giving a consequence for bad behavior?

A. Plan ahead. Decide what type of consequence you will use for certain misbehaviors, then consistently use that consequence each time the misbehavior occurs. You could also write down the consequences and post them on the refrigerator as a reminder to you and your child.

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