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Those toddler years – filled with fun and frustration. We have all heard of the terrible 2s. Yes, they do exist, and they can last longer than two years. However, there are some effective punishments for your misbehaving toddler.


Time Out

A time out can help your misbehaving toddler cool off and resume some self-control. It also gives you some time to cool off and not over-react to your toddler’s misbehavior. For time outs to be effective there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Choose an appropriate place, one that is safe, from toys and distractions, but within view.
  • If you threaten time out, follow through.
  • Set a timer. You can vary the time dependent on the infraction.


Children learn from their experiences. This is the reason consequences work so well as a discipline method for a misbehaving toddler. Of course, you do not want to use consequences if the health or safety of your toddler is threatened. Additionally, it can be difficult watching your toddler experience unpleasant consequences.

Consequences serve as a learning tool, helping your toddler begin to develop a sense of accountability. The toddler who experiences the unpleasant consequences of his behavior will be less likely to act that way again. Consequences also can lead to fewer conflicts and less anger issues for both of you.

Ignoring Behavior

This may not sound like a punishment, but your toddler wants your attention. Frequently, misbehavior is the way to get it. It is very difficult to ignore your misbehaving toddler, but it can be very effective. Of course, you do not want to ignore behavior that can cause harm to your toddler or others. However, not responding to inappropriate behavior frequently causes your toddler to stop.

Ignoring behavior is especially effective if done while you are doing something your toddler would like to do. For example, if you watch one of their favorite programs on television or make a favorite snack – only enough for you – this provides a double whammy that is sure to get your toddler’s attention.

You can also have your toddler sit next to you while you totally ignore their presence. This is especially effective at a playground or park. If your toddler is misbehaving while you are out, get in the car and drive home, ignoring them all the way.  Do not turn around, look at, or speak to them until you arrive home.

Withholding Privileges

Withholding privileges or taking away a favorite toy if your toddler misbehaves is another technique you can use. Even a toddler can understand a simple explanation such as, “You threw your toys, so we are going to put them away. We do not throw our toys.”

Withholding a privilege needs to occur immediately after an infraction. For example, if your toddler is pouring bath water on the floor as they play in the tub, take them out of the tub, explaining that we do not dump water on the floor. If your toddler throws food out of her high chair, take their food away and explain why.

Removing Your Child from a Place or Situation

This method is similar to time-out. If your child is some place they should not be or doing something they should not do, you simple remove them. For example, if you have told your toddler not to go out the front door alone because of the heavy traffic on your street and you find them outside, take them inside, explaining that they were where they should not be.

When your toddler misbehaves, these methods will help them realize that being naughty results in punishments to avoid. Whichever punishment method you choose – time outs, consequences, ignoring the behavior, withholding privileges, or removal from a place or situation – consistency, love, and patience will help both you and your toddler navigate the challenging toddler years.

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