Setting Limits with Toddlers

Laying down a few rules with your toddler takes patience and consistency. Here’s how to set limits with your little tyke.

It’s during the toddler years, when children begin to become more independent that the need for discipline, or limit setting, presents itself. Simply the fact that toddlers love to explore and we need to keep them safe is reason enough for a few ground rules.

Disciplining toddlers does not mean punishing them. It’s important to avoid hitting, being overly strict or overly reactive. The idea behind setting limits with little tykes is to help guide their behavior so that they’re kept out of harm’s way. Heidi Merkoff author of What to Expect, The Toddler Years agrees that “the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re talking about discipline, is what the meaning of the word is. It means to teach and that should be your only objective when disciplining a toddler…teaching them right from wrong. It doesn’t mean to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, to punish.”

Toddlers are just learning about the world around them and Merkoff says that expecting too much from their behavior is a mistake. “Parents often set overly high expectations for their toddlers. They expect them to show impulse control, which they lack by nature. They expect them to sit still for long periods of time. They expect them to remember the rules and regulations. Toddlers need constant reminders of the rules.”

So when setting rules for a toddler keep a few things in mind. First don’t have too many rules, as this can be overwhelming for a young tyke. Keep the rules simple and reasonable. Then once you’ve established a few limits with your toddler it’s important to stick with them explains Merkoff. “Consistency is very important when it comes to any aspect of parenting, especially with discipline. Toddlers need consistency and to know what is expected of them. You shouldn’t expect too much, but there should be a consistency for those expectations that do exist.

Related Stories:

Toddlers and Discipline

The Perils of Punishment


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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