You’ve officially reached your child’s terrible twos, and you aren’t sure if you’re both going to make it through them unscathed. His behavior is awful and you don’t know how to best correct it.
If the thought of spanking your child leaves you in tears, you can breathe easy – there are other, more effective ways to punish your child and correct his future behavior.
Let Your Child Make a Choice
When your child is a toddler, it’s best to make the choice simple and one that he can understand. If he’s misbehaving, you can ask him if he’d rather stop his current behavior or if he’d rather sit in the corner.
Giving choices works with smaller children as well as older children.
If your child can’t seem to stop fighting with his sister or his friend, he might simply be bored and looking for something to interest him. Offer him a couple of different activities, whether it’s coloring or reading a book.
When your child has been rotten all day and you’ve just about had it, put him in a time out instead of spanking him. He might not understand the concept if he’s never had a time out before or if he’s really young. If it’s new to him, you aren’t going to be able to sit him in a chair or place him in the corner and have him stay there. Be prepared to put some time into this one.
You might need to hold him on your lap as you tell him several times that he’s in time out. After a few times, he’ll begin to understand the concept and that punishment won’t be as time intensive for you.
If you’re new to giving time outs, one thing you’ll want to watch is to make sure the television isn’t on and within your child’s viewing area when he is in time out. It’s meant to be a punishment, not a reward!
It can be hard to have sympathy for your child when he’s acting completely out of control. But take a step back from your anger and look for signs that he’s overstimulated or overtired. Both those situations can make a small child act insane. If you aren’t sure if that’s what is wrong with your child, find a quiet place and just sit with him. Give him plenty of kisses and snuggles and see if he settles in.
Start a Discussion
Asking why your child behaved badly is invaluable. It starts a discussion between parents and children, and it allows your child to feel heard and not misunderstood. Communication can make a big difference in your child’s behavior. Maybe there’s a good reason he pushed someone at the playground, or maybe he can tell you why he screamed at his friend.
There are two sides to every story, and your child deserves to have his side heard.
Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.