How to Discipline? - Cuba,MO

Updated on December 19, 2011
T.L. asks from Cuba, MO
17 answers

My LO is 16 months old and has problems with discipline. I can say no, bad or stop and I just get a blank stare back. I have tried spanking, time out, good/bad boy and it seems that nothing works.

For example: We do not allow the LO to stand on the couch for fear of falling off. I tell LO one to sit down and he will sit for a few sec's then stand right back up. I ask do you want a spanking and he will shake his head no and sit back down. Not even 5 sec later he is standing yet again.

Another one: He will point at the outlet and say "no, no, bad!" but then he will go ahead and touch it. Playing with the outlet is an automatic spanking at our house.

So what has worked in your house on a child who doesn't respond to the word no, bad or even a spanking?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

MartyMomma sounds just like my LO. The only difference is that my LO nothing stops him. If he can get his little toe in it he can climb it. If he can't he will move whateverhe can to climb it.

My LO doesn't watch TV yet, he could care less if it is actually turned on so most days it is not. I do tell him to sit and I do remove him from the couch, but he just climbs right back up.

I really appreciate all the responses. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. My first three kids were not high maintenance as this one is.

Featured Answers


answers from Lakeland on

This is when you must repeat everything. I know it is hard to sound like a broken record. In my opinion I don't think spanking helps much at this age, I don't think toddlers quite understand the meaning of no and at 16 months they should not be punshed for learning.

Try to distract him with something else that is safe to play with. I would also suggest outlet covers for all the outlets and block the ones that have cords. This made my hubby and step kids nuts but I didn't want my daughter getting a shock.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

If he can't sit on the sofa without standing then he can't sit on the sofa. Eventually the desire to sit on the sofa again will help him remember.

The other thing you may want to consider is what is he trying to get by standing? Does he want attention? Is there something blocking his view of something so he stands to see without thinking that is against the rules?

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

We do not stand on the couch, but you can sit on the couch.

We do not put our feet on the couch. our feet belong on the floor.

He is 16 months old. His attention span is about a minute and a half.''He is a busy boy, get him a tiny tikes slide so he can climb it inside of the house.

FYI, Spanking and swatting a 16 month old? Do not be surprised or get angry when he starts hitting and swatting you.
He is learning EVERYTHING from you..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please don't turn to spanking. It's not necessary.
at 16 months, focus on distraction and removal from the area of offense.
Even if that means popping him in his pack & play for a few minutes. He'll connect the dots in his head. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

What you are describing is not a 16 month old with problems with discipline. It is a normal 16 month old who is exploring his world and testing boundaries. That is his JOB.

Redirection and supervision. We would tell my son what to do (rather than what not to do) - so instead of no standing on the couch and then hitting him, I would say - 'the couch is for sitting on, if you want to stand, let's get on the floor, and then put him on the floor'.

There honestly is no way that his (non-metallic) finger is going to fit into the outlet and unless you are giving him small metal implements, I don't see how the outlet will hurt him. All the (now adults) kids I knew who experimented with electricity did it at an age where they really wanted to see what would happen - not as toddlers. Oh, and they all grew up fine.

Spanking will teach him several lessons. First - big people can hit little people and second - the people you love most in the world hit you. Plus there is some pretty good research based evidence that spanking is NOT effective discipline. Spanking is associated with increased aggression in preschool and school age children.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

"You may sit on the couch or you may stand on the floor". When the child stands on the couch, put him on the floor. "I see you want to stand up. You may stand up on the floor." Keep it short and sweet.

Laurie A. answered a post like this a few days ago, with lots of 'two positive choice' examples. Kids at this age, in my opinion, (I know, only mine and others will disagree... okay with me) don't benefit from punishment. They do better with guidance and instruction. Constant reinforcement of appropriate, safe choices is our job at this stage. I try to eliminate as many 'nos' in the environment/around the house as possible.

Choices can also be ones that work for you. My son used to climb onto tables at your son's age. "You may keep your feet on the floor or you may sit in the high chair/stroller" or "You may stay in the yard or you may sit in the stroller" . Containment is a positive option (strapped into stroller or high-chair while we get our work done) so long as you give the child a few items to play with and try not to make it punitive. My son spent a lot of time, sometimes, in the stroller, at that age, but was often given something to do because I needed to cook or open the oven, but it wasn't a bad thing.

For what it's worth, "no" can be an abstract word for some children. I try to use positive direction as much as possible when they are young, telling themn what they CAN do. When we say "Don't jump on the couch" two things are happening. First, the child is focused on the last few words of the phrase "jump on the couch" so you are repeating and reinforcing the idea of "jump on the couch" (because that's the brain of a 16 month old); you are also getting them 'stuck' on that, because they cannot think of a better option on their own. Instead, if you say "The couch is for sitting. Come, you want to jump, let's jump on the floor" you are redirecting a desired action to a suitable place. This is Far more instructive to the child than just saying "no" or spanking is. In this way, the child learns "I can be happy down here on the floor".

Little ones really need help and a lot of patience as they learn to navigate their world. Being consistent in redirecting his attention/actions and moving him in a loving way will make both of you happier and it will teach him *where* he can do the things his little body wants to do. And this all worked very well with my little guy, as well as the children I nannied/cared for. Consistent, friendly and firm. Like I said, too, it's okay to use some restraint when there are safety concerns and to remove problem items. (If I child throws a hard toy, I always remove that toy from the play space after I hand them something appropriate to throw, knowing that they *will* try to throw the more dangerous item again. Don't give it back and expect them to make safe choice. I see parents do this and it drives me nuts!) Be the adult, make the good choices for them... it will help them develop better habits in the long run.

(By the way, I use the term "positive" not to mean "touchy-feely help them feel good about everything" but to mean "here's what you CAN do". )

@Amanda F. -- I think you are on track with my intention. I do not condone bribery for good behavior, food-oriented or otherwise. My intent is to always give two appropriate choices *I* choose to be healthy for kids, not necessarily to modify behavior by mollifying. A co-teacher of mine and I discussed this years ago. We should only offer food as a choice if they are hungry (some acting out is based on hunger), but not use food as a regular distraction. Otherwise we risk creating unhealthy relationships with food or do create kids who expect something 'fun' in order to follow directions. Not good!)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I interacted with my daughter. I played with her. I was involved with her. I talked out loud CONSTANTLY at that age

"I know you know not to touch. Let's not touch. Instead let's play with this car" etc.

Kids don't develop impulse control until they are an older two-ish in order to be able to actually follow a command that you give them. For now, he's just repeating what you say, but he CAN'T stop himself.

Some of this is also gauging consistency. The more you are consistent with him the more he will begin to do what you say, as he develops this skill.

Discipline for my daughter was ALWAYS a "natural consequence". For example, standing on the couch, we would move to another room (ie if that's where the TV is, we can't watch TV because you stood on the couch). etc.

I would say you just have to physcially be with him. So, when he stands you just say "we sit on the couch" and then physically move him to sit. As many times as it takes.

Remember this, because this is what happens forever..... "clean your room, take your dishes to the sink, don't do drugs". You can't just tell them once at ANY age and think that they will listen. It's about being involved.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Unlike everyone else, I think he's just testing to see how many times you'll tell him before you give up and let him do it. He's looking for his boundaries. So, I think if you just stay consistent every time he stands on the couch, eventually he'll stop. But you could remove him from the couch and not allow him back on the couch for the day. You will probably have to remove him several times, but he'll understand that you mean what you say and that standing on the couch really isn't allowed.

By the way, I spanked my daughter and she has NEVER to this day raised a hand at me. So spanking your child DOES NOT equate to them hitting you. I NEVER allowed my child to raise a hand to me, not even in play. She learned early on that that was not allowed under any circumstances and it has NEVER been a problem.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The problem is that they cannot understand & correlate at that age.
It seems like they do for a second but they don't.
They absolutely cannot cognitively yet.
The best thing you can do: is REDIRECT
And yes you will have to do it each and every time.
While it's exhausting for you, it is effective.
So you take him off the couch & take him over to a toy.
Each and every time.
Spanking isn't working because he can't understand yet at that age hence the blank stare!
Someone told me this once (learned it in my child development classes, seen in on the show Supernanny, had my friends with kids show me).
And let me tell you.....they were right!
Try it. I promise you it is more effective.
So your son doesn't have a problem learning, it's just your method isn't
Change YOUR ways and I promise you, you will see a difference.
There is a reason that they call 7 years old as the "age of reason" because that's when their minds are developed enough to actually "reason".
Hang in there, make some changes and you will see a difference.
You will be happier too.
Best of luck! :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think your expectations may be high for such a young little boy. He is curious and has impulses he can't control. At this age, he's not defying you, it's not a conscious choice he's making to be "bad." The idea of cause and effect is still far off, he is experimenting and learning and following his urges. He sees the outlet, he knows he's No Bad, then some part of his brain goes "OOh but I wanna touch it..." He has to learn to control the urges, and he will as he grows.

At this point, you should shift your thinking from discipline to learning. Kids that age need constant redirection and clear statements. As a previous poster said: physical reminders, redirection and natural consequences go a lot farther towards teaching him what you need him to know. Physically sit him down on the couch ("the couch is for sitting on our bottoms") then if he stands, do it again, say the same thing. If he does it again, physically move him to the ground where he can stand "If you want to stand you do that on the floor, it's safer than the couch." I also like the suggestion of moving to another room, and perhaps losing the chance to watch TV because he couldn't sit. It's hard because it does take patience and consistency, repetitive reactions from you without anger or frustration. I know you'd like him to catch on and obey better, but he's very little still and he'll get there in good time. Hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I know my 18-month old daughter has been pushing and testing her boundaries since she was 15 or 16 months old.

I found the book "Back to Basics Discipline." She actually recommends starting her technique at 12 months. I personally don't think I could do that, but I got the book after that point, anyway.

My daughter at 15/16 months was learning fast enough that if she swatted at us or bit us (yes, she's a biter) and we redirected: "ouch! No biting! Kisses! Give kisses instead!" she would do the redirected option for a while and then, looking at us out of the corner of her eye (to watch for our reaction) start biting again, or doing whatever it was she had just been told not to do (banging on the tv, hitting the dog with her play golf clubs, etc.).

She was doing what she was doing intentionally.

I started the Back to Basics Discipline method and am definitely seeing results at 18 months. It's not magic, she still is definitely learning impulse control and she's definitely going to always be testing us to see if we *still* mean it, but it's working.

So, a combo of what a lot of moms have said and what I got from Back to Basics Discipline - redirect, but there must also be a consequence for ignoring you as the parent. Her method is a quick swat on the butt or thigh. For her, it's an issue of respect - our children need to learn to respect us enough to listen and obey the first time we say something - not the second or third or only when we yell. It's hard to do that without an immediate and unpleasant consequence when they don't.

Just a thought that popped into my head (so, not well thought out, please no harsh responses) - I sort of wonder if this entitlement mentality that many of our children seem to have is because of a **warped** way of implementing the redirect method. We often choose to redirect with toys or food or something else they like - seems logical. But are we teaching our children that every time they aren't allowed to do something we'll replace it with something they like instead? (Obviously redirecting like Hazel says wouldn't create this issue, I don't think.)

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have a 14 month old that has an appropriate name. His name means Climber, or Ascend in Hindi. Thats what he does, he loves our chair, he wants up on it a 100 times a day. If I say no, and put him in it sitting, or make him get off. I say it, I shake my finger. The next no, I almost growl it, so he knows I am mad. If I get to number 3. I dont say anything, I swat his tush lightly (diapered and clothed) I pick him up, I put him in his room with the baby gate on the door, and I sit in there and show him toys and things he wants to play with. Its a work in progress. He generally leaves it alone for a few hours, and then its back to square one. Kids need the repetition.

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answers from La Crosse on

He is 16 months. Keep doing what your doing and he will listen. Right now he is entering the "testing" stage. My kids all did it at that age. The keys is to be consistant. Even one time of letting slide would seem like I had to start all over. Keep it to the same punishment every time... wether it be time out, spanking.. whtat ever your choice is.

By 18months- 2yrs old he will ( hopefully) be done with it. in that time just keep doing what your doing.

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answers from Dallas on

We were never spankers and would not consider that option.

Our daughter is 16 now and she always responded to losing a priviledge. We would put a favorite toy in "time out".

As she got older, we took away things that were important to her... CHI iron, car keys, phone, IPod, computer, etc.

I believe the main thing is to be consistant. If you say you are going to put him in time out.... do it. If he throws a tantrum in a store and you say you will go home if he doesn't stop, he does not stop..... GO home.

Be consistant, COMMUNICATE, and interact with him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

16 months is too young to say nothing works. Even if you've been absolutely diligent (maybe not since he still happily defies and pops back up) since age one, a super spirited child takes consistency to get things in check by 2. It's normal. My older kids started these behaviors around 18 months, and with diligence, we had no terrible twos and beyond. My youngest was born much tougher, and needed diligent discipline from 12 to 15 months, and now at 2 1/2, she still super spirited, but has excellent control at warnings (the other two didn't even need many warning by that age). There were times (usually around 14-18 months), however, when all three of them SEEMED like nothing was working. You can't give up. Pick one thing, your most effective (if you feel swats have no effect be diligent with time outs, but I've never seen time outs be more effective, and concise and simple is best at his age), after one calm warning so they don't learn they have ten warnings, or to wait until you're "annoyed"and stay with it. We also did Back to Basics and it worked wonderfully, but I remember one time with my son around that age, I told and aunt (mother of ten) "I feel odd disciplining him so much when it has NO EFFECT." She said the wise words, "Well, by all means, you don't have to do this, you can just let him be and address it later, but it will click if you don't give up." Because she has 10 AMAZING happy kids, including well behaved toddlers, I kept going, and sure enough, suddenly a week or two later, it clicked, and he was the toddler I could take anywhere and he would follow calm warnings. Which did wonders when I was on bed rest for 2 months with relatives and couldn't chase him! He's awesome at 4 years old (TODAY) and has been since age 2. Also, you may think he's not minding because he's still doing stuff, but if you're effective, you'll notice he's not nearly as tantrummy and challenging as some kids his age, and he would be if you were just distracting and stuff. So, you may have ways of being a bit more consistent in your routine, and the book Amanda recommends is a great one. Be sure to be loving and positive at all other times, so he sees the big difference for an action that wont' be allowed.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Just be consistent. It is a learning thing. At his age, he will need consistent reinforcement of the rules. You will be thankful for the results if you stick to your guns and continue to teach him your boundaries in love and with diligence. Don't go weary in this important job! Remember his tiny frame, and don't be harsh. Yet, lovingly continue to teach him. You are doing a great job.

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answers from Boston on

You have a lot of good responses about staying consistent and about redirecting. I thought I might mention that it is not helpful to ask a child of any age if they want a punishment , as in "Do you want a spanking?" That sets up a challenge. Rather stop the behavior by redirecting, or if in physical danger, by removing from the danger. You are in charge,tell him what to do (sit down), again, and again, and again. Blessings to you and your LO.

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