Disciplining My 20 Month Old

Updated on August 13, 2011
J.E. asks from Cincinnati, OH
9 answers

What are the best ways to disciplne my strong willed toddler (20 months)?

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answers from New York on

no yelling no hitting no bad examples. Consistency. If he/she is trying to do something they're not supposed to, like say spill the dog water out. You say no and gently remove them from the situation. Distract them with something else. If need be, put the water out of reach temporarily and then remember to put it back so the poor pup can drink! LOL

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answers from Spokane on

Redirection and distraction. At such a young age they're not *really* able to grasp a 'time out'....though I started with both of mine around 2.

Say for example, that your child keeps pushing on the tv (which is something mine did). I would take their hands in mine, look them in the eye and say 'not for touching', then move them to something they COULD touch. The key is to be consistent and patient, but you HAVE to be more strong-willed than they are - they can *smell* hesitation! LOL

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answers from Seattle on

Oh man do I feel your pain! Time-outs work for my 2yo, BUT not on a mat on the floor or a special time-out chair... Had to strap that bad boy in his booster seat/ highchair!!! He absolutely hated that he couldn't go ANYWHERE. We don't time it. We wait until he is finished crying/throwing a fit and has calmed down. If he starts crying again when we approach him to take him out of time-out, well then he stays in time-out longer. He doesn't need or get time-outs as often because when we ask "do you want to go in time-out?" he usually finds something else to do haha He got a time-out the other day and for the first time ever he said "Sorry" when his time-out was over :) This is what works for us, but I cannot say "this is the way" for your toddler... just a suggestion, but I hope you find what works for you... and SOON :)

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answers from Portland on

Setting limits with strong willed children or how to talk so kids will listen. Those are the only things my daughter would respond to and they work great. Consistency all the way too. Does your toddler hate time-outs? At that age time-outs worked great. She HATED being buckled into a high chair for 2 minutes so for things like hitting she went to time-out. Natural consequences work well too, throw the toy you don't get to play with it for 5-15 mins. You could word things to put the choice in his/her hands "Stay beside mommy or go in the cart. You decide" Your toddler runs off "I see you decided to go in the cart" and put him/her in the cart. Throws a tantrum after that "breathe and calm down or go to the car. You decide"

I agree with Lesley S too, it reminded me of what I used to say to my daughter when she needed it and was learning how things worked... I'd say something like TVs are for watching not touching. Chairs are for sitting in. etc. For most strong-willed kids negative discipline will feed the fire and makes the behavior worse. These are all skills that will put the ball in your child's court so he/she will learn to make moral decisions on his/her own in the future and won't have any chance of negativity in the parent/child relationship or trust.

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answers from Williamsport on

Use firm discipline doled calmly after one clear warning consistently. At 20 months, a child learns very quickly this way and lots of future discipline is avoided. Redirection and distraction teach nothing and push all the issues back for "later" when battles will be much bigger. These tactics are for daycares and places who can't use real discipline, and just have to manage kids temporarily. Parents need to do more than that for right behavior to set in before preschool. Waiting until two is setting your child way back. Kids easily learn most basic discipline between the ages of 1 and 2, and then it gets harder form there. Starting late at 2 with light things like time outs also drags out the bad behavior much longer. This book is a great guide, Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson. I have 3 extremely sweet, happy well behaved kids 5, 3 and even my 2 year old who was a born terror is wonderful.

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answers from New York on

check james dobson's book the strong willed child. the biggest thing is consistency and you being the adult and realizing the difference between immaturity and exuberance versus willful disobedience. it is not always easy...!

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answers from St. Louis on

as Lesley S. said....redirection & distraction. & throw in that timeout if necessary!

In my daycare, I have 2 boys....almost at age 2. Their family dynamics are very different, the boys' personalities are opposites, & 1 is very strong-willed (with a mother who applauds it, regardless of the harm he is causing). I use redirection & distraction for both boys. It works with one & rarely for the other. The strong-willed child usually ends up in timeout, cries it out, & then complies with my requests. It's a process he has to go thru to be able to cooperate.

Have you ever tried positive rewards? Or negotiating towards success is also another method which may work for you. That involves little baby steps towards whatever you're trying to achieve....whether it's picking up toys or not playing with the tv. With the 2 boys, when we're picking up blocks....I request them by color (holding 1 in my hand) & the boys bring them to me. 75% of the time they get it wrong....but at least they are trying to work with me! & the reason I do this....is because most of the time, they're not willing to cooperate with me & it's my way to work around their personalities. We do this a lot....oh, well! Hope this helps....



answers from Columbus on

I just started using the Love and Logic parenting method on my toddler and it is AMAZING! I had never heard of it until recently and I am so glad someone mentioned it to me. I highly, highly suggest it. They've got lots of books - I started with Love and Logic Magic to get a basic grasp of the concept and started using the "uh-oh" song, as they call it. Gets my son's attention right away when he's doing something he's not supposed to- seriously worked the first time. Now whenever I use it, he stops what he's doing and knows that he needs to start acting sweeter or there's going to be a consequence.

He's also started cleaning up after himself a lot more - sometimes without me even asking! (He's 26 months old so I find this highly amazing!)

They also have a book geared specifically to toddlers and pre-schoolers, but I haven't read it yet. I'm sure it's got lots of suggestions in it.

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