30 answers

Such Thing as Discipline for a 15 Month Old?

Being new to this 'mothering' thing, I don't know when the appropriate time is to begin disciplining our son. In the future, I know that I will be doing the "supernanny" technique (put on time out, explain why they're there, a min for every year and then appology and kisses and hugs) but I think my son, Ethan, is a little too young for that technique right now. My main issue is the throwing things and screaming and a little bit of hitting he does when he's frusterated. I understand that he's testing his limits right now, especially due to lack of communication skills at this age, but is there anything that you might recommend to help steer away from the tantrums? Any advice will help.

Thank you!

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What can I do next?

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At this age, mostly redirection and explaining why he shouldn't behave that way. I suggest reading the Love and Logic Toddler book and try teaching him a few signs so that he isn't so frustrated with the lack of communication skills. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I've recently learned about Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. She has several books and one for birth - 3 years and another for toddlers. I have found her approach very workable.

Telling him no at this age is a start. Right now my 19 month old is doing the same thing. I tell her it isn't okay to scream and throw things down. Every time she does this kind of behavior I just repeat it. She is getting that it isn't okay to throw.

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I attend Positive Discipline meetings with our Mothers of Multiples club and I have received some great tips and tricks that worked for my children at the age your son is at.

We taught our children sign language to enable them to communicate with us sooner than verbal skills would allow them to. The improved communication definitely lessened the frustration on their part. (Sign language for simple words - which are all they know right now, are available on DVD with either Signing Time or Baby Signs).

When our children would throw a tantrum, I would say, "Oh, you're mad! You're mad, mad, mad!!" As I'm saying "mad", I would shake my head to emphasize the feeling. This would usually result in them cracking up...but, it gave them a word for what they were experiencing. I would also grab a piece of paper and a pen or crayon and tell them to show me how mad they were. I would put the pen or crayon to the paper and scribble while I said "mad, mad, mad!" It is completely disarming for them. They start to scribble, get the frustration out, and then move on.

As for the hitting, we did what Deann suggested. We would grab their hand (typically in mid-hit) and say "No hitting" firmly. We took it one step further and then while holding their hand, would gently stroke the person who was going to be hit and say, "We touch so-and-so gently." This doesn't work overnight...but, it definitely works.

Another solution is redirection. When he becomes frustrated or angry, simply take his hand and say, "Oh, look! What's this?!" Simple diversion works well in many cases, too.

I hope that some of this helps. Hang in there...as it is only a phase, and does get better in time!

~ L.

3 moms found this helpful

At that age, I would mostly ignore the tantrums. As they say, reward POSITIVE behavior.

Your instincts sound pretty good. Listen to them.

1 mom found this helpful

Sometimes people say "discipline" but think "punishment".
Discipline actually starts as soon as your child is born, because we are teachers ... which is what discipline is all about ... from the start. Your fifteen month old needs to learn right from wrong behavior, as well as safe vs. unsafe behavior. The 'Super Nanny' methods are not punishment, though the way the children react sometimes makes it appear to be. They are firm, gentle methods of getting across to the children that their behavior isn't appropriate and to teach them to behave in more appropriate ways. Time out doesn't mean a lot to a fifteen month old, but you can begin to get the concept across. If he throws something (usually a toy I presume) take it away, and talk to him about the behavior. If he throws a tantrum, give him a spot where he is to stay until he's finished. Time doesn't mean anything... and using a time frame even with an older child isn't productive.. but giving the child the idea that a change in behavior gets them out of 'time out' works. I say to a child something like, "you need to stay here until you're finished with your tantrum and ready to play nicely". If they get up and try to come back to the group while still screaming or acting out, I send them back to the tantrum spot and repeat the instruction. When they are ready to settle down and come back I say something like "are you ready to join us again?" I may also talk with the child about a better way to handle things in the future, giving him/her words to use. (This is one of the ways we can use to teach our children language too.) The idea is that we aren't punishing for inappropriate behavior, but helping the child to learn appropriate behavior and giving them a safe place (for themselves and others) to vent their anger and frustration when it's gone to that point.
As for preventing the tantrums in the first place, it is just a matter of being constantly alert. You don't want to 'rescue' him all the time, but you can see something beginning to lead to a tantrum and gently intervene with some suggestions in order to help him avoid frustration. Remember, this is a time when he is learning life skills that will need to last him for many years to come.

1 mom found this helpful

Absolutley start disciplining him right now. Discipline means to teach, so that is what you do. You can put him on a special carpet and tell him why he is going there. Or, what worked for me was putting him on his bottom and telling him no. Then, of course, pouring praise into him when he does what you want. I wish I had started earlier with my son, as he is now 6 and I am working hard to break some hard habits.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

It looks like you've already gotten a lot of good advice here. I'll just add a couple of things--since my son is almost 2, I have a lot to say about temper tantrums.

For discipline, it helps to have an authentic bottom line phrase that very clearly communicates that a line has been crossed. For some people that is "Stop Now." For me that is "No Way." With throwing things, take whatever it is away, and say this isn't a throwing toy...or we don't throw food or we don't throw our cups...

And then (when he starts winding up to cry) I'll add, "I'm sorry you're upset, but you're just going to have to cry. It isn't going to change anything. You can't have cookies for breakfast." It is my response to crying demands for juice, cookies, toys that have been taken away because he is hitting me or the dog with them. When my son hears it, he knows that negotiations are over. It doesn't always stop him from continuing to be upset, but often it turns the crying from temper tantrum to disappointment.

In truly serious temper tantrums (maybe twice by 23 mos), I have taken him into his room and put him in the rocking chair and said, "When you're ready to be around other people come find me," leaving the door open and going into the next room. It works like a charm and has taught him that when he is very angry to go into his room and cool off. Last week, he got mad, ran to his room, and slammed the door and I thought wow, that is starting much sooner than I thought it would. But it allowed him to express his feelings in a more socially acceptable way than lying on the floor crying or hitting.

1 mom found this helpful

At this age, mostly redirection and explaining why he shouldn't behave that way. I suggest reading the Love and Logic Toddler book and try teaching him a few signs so that he isn't so frustrated with the lack of communication skills. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Redirection and telling him no and why you don't do something. I also recommend "Happiest Toddler on the Block", the DVD so you can see him use the techniques. It helps you communicate with them in a way that they understand. He compares them to little cavemen because they act purely on emotion and don't have the skills to properly communicate so they resort to fits or bitting or hitting. If you son doesn't have much of a vocabulary, it's a great and easy resource and tool.

Good luck, this like all phases will pass with the right amount of love and support from you.


1 mom found this helpful

I certainly think it possible to discipline a 15 month old, for the behaviors you describe. I think the time out approach, as you said, might be too much at that age. But when he hits you can gently move his hand/arm down and say "no" in a firm voice and with a facial expression that show your disapproval. For throwing things you can say "no throwing" and put the item away out of reach. My children are now 21 and 11 years old, but for me what worked for tantrums when they were little is to give them as little attention as possible and even walk away when possible. Working in a field of behavior modification, I can tell you the behaviors that will be repeated are the ones that work for the child. So if there is behavior you are seeing that you do not want to be repeated then make sure that behavior does not get a pay off for it. It is also important to realize that at 15 months old your child understands more than he can verbalize, so don't hesitate to talk to him in sentences, such as "no, we don't throw things" Comprehension is a part of language development and usually occurs sooner than verbal skills. I have known people that feel you cannot discipline a child at all until after the age of two, but in my experience what you get then is 2 years of bad behaviors that will need to be un-done.

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