Discipline: How to talk to toddlers

Most parents talk too much or use unclear language when they discipline a small child. Too many words and vague complaints only confuse and overwhelm him.

So keep it simple, following these guidelines:

  • Tell your child what he's done wrong. For example, 'No eating the plant'.

  • Tell him what to do instead – 'Go get your car' – and go with him to do it.

  • Avoid vague phrases like 'Stop that!' 'Be good', 'Settle down' or 'Do as you're told'. Little children (and even some big ones) will have no idea what you mean.

Helpful hint:

Be wary of how you react when a child is running into the road. If you chase him he may tease you by running even faster. Consider a very loud 'stop'! This may lead him to pause or slow down, enabling you to catch him.

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