Speaking to Toddlers: Five Tips on How to Get through to your Two-Year-Old!

A take on Positive Discipline

When we think of the word discipline, it is often associated with terms like punishment or time outs— in other words, the penalties that follow when children disobey their parents. Discipline in the Montessori world has a different meaning. Teaching is discipline. We guide children in appropriate behaviour while also assisting them in comprehending and expressing their feelings.

Teaching your child to behave is what discipline is all about. It’s a fresh perspective on discipline, isn’t it? The concept of discipline extends beyond punishment, consequences, and what to do when children misbehave. Our children learn how to behave through discipline.

You may find yourself in a variety of draining and unpleasant circumstances when your child doesn’t listen, such as engaging in power struggles with them. However, when you shift your perspective and view discipline as teaching, you are compelled to consider what your toddler needs to learn. What can your child learn from this that would be beneficial? How can your toddler use this difficult behaviour to develop new routines, values, and understand the importance of having consequences?

Here are some strategies to help your toddlers quit willful disobedience and lessen power struggles. Let’s start now!

  1. Get down to your toddler’s level and make eye-contact

Thinking about the problem from your toddler’s perspective can have a very literal meaning. Getting down to their eye level when you speak to them is one of the simplest ways to improve communication. Approach your child at eye level, make eye contact, and provide your instructions in a firm yet calm manner. By doing so, you’re showing greater consideration and respect to your child while sending the message that you wish to be taken seriously.

  • Give choices

Giving your toddlers choices can prevent a potential meltdown and promote listening in them. By focusing on the decisions they can make- rather than the work they are avoiding, you can stop many temper tantrums from ever happening! Your toddler almost always has to abide by adult decisions but having a say in their own decisions gives them a chance to express their ideas. In turn, they will accept their decisions and carry them out. This has a positive effect on children as it allows them to feel empowered. Giving options enables them to take charge and sharpen their critical thinking abilities. They will choose the course of action they prefer to take and be responsible for it.

  • Explain the Reason

 Just as adults often seek the answer to the infamous question ‘Why?’, our toddlers feel the same way. They also need to be informed the reason ‘why’ to help them make sense of the world as they are navigating it and attempting to improve their communication skills each day. Your toddler will be more motivated to comply if they know why they should do so rather than just being told what to do or not do.

  • Watch your wording

Do not “ask” for the instruction when you want your child to do something. For instance, when a toddler is asked “Can you take a bath?”, you may be faced with a confident “NO”, silence or a blank stare. Instead, say “It’s time to take a bath”. This way, your child knows they have to take a bath. As mentioned above, if you are met with protest, you may further explain the importance of taking baths.

  • Use Positive Language

When using positive language, frame your sentences in terms of what your toddler can do rather than what they can’t. An example of positive language is saying “Let’s Walk” opposed to “Don’t run”. The next time you observe your child walking instead of running in an unsafe place (for instance, while crossing the street), be sure to praise your child for their good choices. Perhaps you might say “Great job walking while crossing the street today”.

Recognizing your child’s feelings and intentions will help them learn to listen. Work on obtaining eye-contact with them and firmly but calmly explain what they must accomplish. Give reasons for it and parent-approved choices.

As with anything in parenting, you’ll have bad days. Your toddler might act appropriately one moment before purposefully disobeying again. There is no magic solution because everyone—including children—are human and subject to bad days.

During your bad days, or moments of frustration, try to remember that discipline isn’t about being stern or giving out penalties. Instead, discipline is teaching how to act and how to overcome parenting obstacles!