Tips on how and when to discipline your child

The toddler years are wonderful…well most of the time anyway. Our kids are beginning to talk and their personalities are starting to shine through. That’s the good news.

The bad news is those epic toddler tantrums and as a mom of triplet toddlers I have seen it all and been through it all- from meltdowns at the park to having one of my kids scream repeatedly in my ear.

Then I discovered five life-changing strategies that changed my thinking about toddler tantrums and my approach to discipline, which made for happier kids and a happier mom.

First figure out why. Don’t always just jump in and discipline—there is likely a reason why your child is misbehaving. Maybe they’re throwing a tantrum because they’re tired or hungry or just needs more attention. So figure out why and try fixing the underlying issue before disciplining.

Be consistent. Don’t forget about the rules one day and then aggressively enforce them the next. Not being consistent will only confuse your child.

Use a reward system. Everyone feels good when they’re rewarded, so anytime your child does a good deed or behaves well during an event, give them a gold star, or for older children, allow some time to do their favorite activity. If they misbehave, threaten to take away the gold star (which works for me every time) or the activity time.

Discipline the moment a child misbehaves. Children have a hard time remembering, so your discipline method will be less effective if you wait too long after the incident.

Give yourself a time out. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, losing your cool in front of your child will only teach them poor coping skills. So give yourself a time out if you’re hungry, tired, stressed out from work or dealing with other personal problems. Taking a little breather and getting in the right frame of mind before dealing with your child will make it easier for you to understand your child’s behavior and discipline them more appropriately.