Right now, your child is at an age where they are struggling to communicate their wants and needs, often coming up short and feeling frustrated when you don’t automatically understand what they’re trying to tell you.
That frustration can quickly morph into tantrums that will become a big part of your next few years. The terrible twos can start early, and your little one may already be hitting, kicking, biting, and screaming anytime he or she is upset.
They are lashing out because they are frustrated, but the result is that you are often left plenty frustrated as well.
Still, what exactly are you supposed to do? How do you best discipline a child who isn’t yet at an age where they fully understand what you are trying to communicate to them?
Some may argue for spanking. But doesn’t it seem a little backwards to try to address aggressive behavior with an aggressive response?
There is plenty of research to back up the fact that spanking is not the best disciplinary tactic. But what will work for a child who isn’t even one yet?
First and foremost, staying calm and separating yourself from the situation can sometimes be your greatest tool. This isn’t always possible—when a tantrum happens in the middle of a grocery aisle, you can’t just walk away. But when it takes place at home, giving some space and allowing your child to tantrum without you trying to calm them, can send the message that throwing those fits isn’t going to get the reaction they are hoping for. It can also allow you to separate yourself and calm down too, rather than engaging in a battle of wills with a frustrated child. Keep your child in sight so you can monitor the situation and ensure their safety.
Timeouts may also be a way to go, though at this age, you can’t expect your little one to just sit in a corner by themselves. Instead, choose a time out location, and sit with them. Place your child in your lap, facing away from you, and wrap your arms around him or her so that they can’t lash out and hit during the timeout. Let your child know that when they calm down, the timeout can be over.
Realistically, at this age, discipline is tough. What works for one child may not work for another, and you might have to experiment to find out what kind of consequences get through to your child the best. While doing that, though, try to remember that your little one is working through a normal stage and shouldn’t be punished too harshly for typical behavior—taking away a favorite toy for a week most likely won’t send the message you are hoping for.
Consistency, calm reactions, and compassionate discipline will often get you much further at this age than authoritarian measures. You may also find your child responds far better to positive reinforcement than negative punishments for now.
Your methods will change as the months and years go by, but at this age, it’s just about finding what works for your child, and what feels right for your home. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about ideas that might be a good fit for you and your little one.
Written by Leah Campbell, infertility advocate, adoptive mama, writer and editor. Find me @sifinalaska on Twitter.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general informational basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.