Toddler Discipline


As parents move into the toddler years, they will find themselves becoming very familiar with positive discipline techniques.


When disciplining a toddler, keep these normal growth and developmental stages in mind:

  • Toddlers are very independent.  They want to do things all by themselves, no matter how long it takes.
  • Toddlers get easily frustrated.  This is usually because they do not have the physical skills to match their ambition.
  • Toddlers do not have good reasoning skills.  They do things without thinking about what will happen next.
  • Toddlers cannot pay attention for very long.
  • Toddlers are egocentric.  They think about themselves and what they need most of the time.
  • Although these behaviours should be discouraged, temper tantrums, hitting, and biting are all normal behaviours for toddlers. 
  • Toddlers have short memories.  You may need to tell a toddler a rule over and over again.

For the most part, disciplining toddlers should focus on limit setting. 


The following are positive discipline tips that work well with toddlers:


  • Give toddlers a choice, making sure you as a parent can live with the choice.  “Do you want bubbles or red water in your bath?”  Either way, the child knows he has to have a bath.
  • Child proof your home.  This will reduce the number of times you have to say no to your child.
  • Give information, but keep it short and simple for toddlers.  “We don’t bite.  Biting hurts.”
  • Toddlers can be distracted easily.  Do not mention the misbehaviour, but take the child’s mind off of it by placing their attention elsewhere.  “I was just going to get out the blocks, would you like to play too?”
  • Try substitution.  “Jumping on the couch is dangerous.  You can jump on the floor instead.”
  • Prepare toddlers for transitions.  “Three more slides and then we need to leave the park.”

These are just a few positive discipline ideas that may help you with the challenge of raising your toddler.


For more information on discipline, click on these links:

Positive discipline tips for every age

Effective discipline


For ideas for dealing with specific behaviours such as temper tantrums, hitting or biting, or for information on time-outs, call 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456.



The Mother of all Toddler Books by Ann Douglas, John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd., Ontario, 2002.

Becoming the Parent You Want to Be by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser, Broadway Books, New York, 1997.

Canadian Pediatric Society,




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