• Dana Sullivan

Your 21-month-old's behavior: Positive discipline tactics

New this month: Positive discipline tactics

Disciplining your child doesn't mean punishing him; it means teaching him right from wrong. When you're faced with a situation that requires intervention, don't just think about how to reprimand your child. Instead consider how you can use the opportunity to help guide your child toward behavior that's appropriate. This isn't always easy, especially if you're angry, but by giving your child something positive to work toward, rather than just a negative to avoid, he'll be more respectful of you and others.

What you can do

Among the "positive" approaches that often work with toddlers:

  • Do as I do. Children imitate adults, so if you show good behavior, your child will take your lead. If you want him to say "please" and "thank you," be sure to use those terms with him and others.

  • Speak respectfully. Your child is more likely to listen if you talk, rather than yell, and if you make eye contact with him.

  • Tell him what you want rather than what you don't. For instance, say "Touch the kitty gently," instead of "Don't hit the kitty!" Or, "Please sit down," instead of "Don't stand up in your chair."

  • Make some simple rules. Establish a few household rules, communicate them to your child, and enforce them consistently. Don't expect your toddler to know better. Simple rules that protect health and safety, such as no running in the street and no hitting, are reasonable for toddlers to follow. Don't give him a long list of "don't touches." You're better off keeping things like the VCR and your fine crystal out of his reach.

  • Reward the positive. Positive behavior will continue and even increase if your child gets attention for it. "Thanks for sharing that toy with your sister," is one example, or "Wow, you put your cup on the table."

Other developments: New fears, banning biting, sticking to routines

Your toddler's blossoming imagination can lead to a host of new fears now. Insects and water are two common ones. Don't try to talk your child