I'm reposting here something I did up a while ago. Sorry it's a novel, and I keep adding to it. It's a good place to start. Keep reading this board too and you'll read about a lot of situations that you'll encounter sooner or later.
Your 11 month old is becoming a 'toddler'. Depending on your child's temperament, the toddler years start earlier or later. The one thing I can say about parenting a toddler: It requires you to move. When I find myself sitting on the couch yelling (we've all been there), I have to look first at my own behavior. Toddlers/infants are physical learners and thus need gentle touch and demonstration.
Disciplining a toddler will keep you moving. Much more so than tending a baby. Your days of sitting on the couch reading while baby plays are at an end for a bit. (They come back, but not for a few years.)
The other thing that helped me a ton was reading. I read parenting books as a hobby. (Really, I just happen to be quite interested in child development.) Some are really good. Some are really not good. Most are somewhere in between and often have a tip or two that I can use, or at least mull over.
If you and your dh can find an AP or Gentle Discipline oriented parenting class, I'd highly recommend it. Taking a parenting class together really helped my dh and me talk about some things. We didn't get that much out of the actual class, but it raised issues that we could discuss.
Below I've given a list of my general tips for disciplining a toddler that I've collected over the years. None of these are original with me – all are things that I’ve gotten from books. My favorite books are:
Kids, Parents & Power Struggles
Parenting with Purpose by Lynda Madison (I like this one because it speaks directly to under 4s)
Becoming the Parent You Want to BeFirst, remember that discipline = teaching.
For me, good discipline means teaching the child what to do and what to expect. Also remember that learning new things takes time. Your 20 month old can’t tie their own shoes, so don’t expect them to learn to not throw their spaghetti on the floor in one day.Before you discipline remember that children need to be well fed and well rested before they can learn anything.
Feed your toddler every 2 hours. Make sure they get enough sleep. If you're both tired and cranky (dinner time), you're going to have more battles. Try to plan a quiet activity or a way to cool off then. If your child has been sick, expect their behavior to be "off" for the 10 days to 2 weeks it takes them to fully recover (even if they "look" OK).
Finally, the middle of a meltdown is not a time for teaching. It's a time for getting through.
All in all, it's my reaction that makes the difference to discipline. If I know what I'm doing and can remain calm, I can handle a lot of situations. When I lose it (which I do all to frequently), things don't go as well. On the whole, however, we muddle through pretty well. Note too that these are my ideals. I often fall far short of my ideals. My goal is not to be perfect, but to keep moving in the right direction.
Here's the short version of the list:
1. Create a positive environment
2. Fill your child's need for attention in positive ways
3. Tell them what to do, not what not to do.
4. Remember where they are in development.
5. Decide if the behavior needs correction/stopping
6. Find a safe way for them to do what they're trying to do ('honor the impulse')
7. Gently help them comply/physically show them what you mean
8. Explain/warn of the consequences (keep them logically related)
9. Calmly enforce the consequences1. Create a positive environment.
For me, this means child-proofing so my child is free to explore. The easiest way for a child to have a good experience is to simply be able to explore without limits because there’s nothing dangerous around. So, toys should be age-appropriate (that means no toys that they can take apart), books should be board books only, knick knacks should be put away, stereo equipment etc. should be behind doors/guards.
For others, this means helping their child explore the dangerous things until the urge is out. (That's easy to do with one, harder to do with more than one because your attention is divided.) Sometimes if you hold a fragile object or help them hold fragile object, that's all it takes. I also taught my kids a 'one finger' touch. It's easier to keep it controlled and gentle. We spent a lot of time exploring the neighbors' Christmas decorations with one finger.
IMO, every child should have at least one room where they are free to explore. Our kitchen was one of these rooms. All drawers except 2 had strong latches on them. The 2 free drawers had pans in them. One cupboard was all theirs, full of tupperware and plastic baby bowls and cups (and a few pans). The other room was the living room.
2. Make sure you fill up your child's cup of attention daily.
If they get positive attention from you, they're less likely to act out just to get attention. I'm a firm believer in 30 minutes or so of focused attention where the child takes the lead in the play. When things are getting rough, this helps restore our connection. (This is why I love Playful Parenting -- it's got a great explanation of why this is so important, plus good tips for restoring the connection at difficult times.)3. Tell your child what they can do.
Don't phrase things in the negative
. Phrasing things positively teaches your child what is acceptable and gets their mind off what they shouldn't be doing. So, instead of saying "don’t jump on the couch" say "come jump on the pillows". Instead of 'don't stand up on the chair' say 'sit down'
4. Remember where you child is in development.
A young toddler has a short attention span. A toddler has little impulse control. Toddlers have a hard time stopping a behavior once they've started it. A toddler isn't great a using words when they're upset. Thus, actions speak louder than words for many reasons with a toddler. Toddlers are physical and tactile learners. They need to explore things physically and with their hands. Toddlers learn by repetition. They aren't doing this 85 times in a row just to frustrate you. My 6 year old does not see the world in black and white merely because she wants to rule the universe (though she'd really like to be Queen of Everything).5. Decide whether a behavior is really worth stopping.
Do I really care if my child takes ALL the puzzles off the shelf? Is it OK for my kids to slide down the stairs on an old air mattress? (They're pretending racing the luge.) Why shouldn't my kids ride their scooters in the house? (OK, they can't do it while I'm cooking dinner, but other times, why not?)6. Find a way to honor the impulse if what they're doing isn't safe/acceptable to you.
Find something that the child CAN do that’s not the forbidden activity. So, if she wants to jump on the couch, put pillows on the floor and have her jump on those. If he wants to play in the toilet, set him up at the sink with a step stool, some bubbles and a few utensils.
If there just isn't a way to do this, then redirect to something they can do. For toddlers, sometimes just going to another room helps. For older kids, it's more effort.7. Gently help them comply.
Under 3s are physical learners and sometimes need to be physically shown what you expect. Handing them the toy you want them to pick up. Gently helping them put their feet on the floor might be more effective than telling them 5 times "feet on the floor".8. Warn of consequences
Tell your child what to expect. "Please drive that truck on the floor. Throwing is not safe. If you don't drive it, I’ll have to put it up to keep us safe."
When you're thinking of a consequences, keep them related to what the child is doing. Timeout for throwing spaghetti on the floor doesn't make much sense to me. Better would be to have the child help pick up the spaghetti. (And yes, sometimes that meant me putting a single strand of spaghetti in my child's hand, and walking with them over to the trash. When they were young toddlers, that single strand is 'helping'. At 5, my dd can now clean up after her own spills.)8. Enforce consequences
This must be done consistently and calmly. Enforcing it after telling them three times "if you throw that (again), I’ll take it." only teaches them that you don’t mean what you say, or that they've got 5-10 chances before they have to listen.
You also need to remain calm. This is the absolute hardest part for me. If I'm reacting from a place of anger, I'm not disciplining (i.e. teaching). I'm more likely to punish than teach.
What are appropriate consequences for a child this age? First, try to 'help them' gently comply. If that doesn't work, then I apply:
1. Removing the toy if they’re not using it correctly.
2. Removing the child from the situation.
For kids under 3, time-outs don’t do any good. (for older kids, it's also highly debatable.) Young children don't understand why they're in 'timeout', and they don't link the punishment (which happens after they've done something) to whatever it was they did.
Just removing them to another location is generally enough. So, sit them on the couch or a chair and say calmly, "keep your hands out of the toilet. it’s dirty." Then walk away (and close the bathroom door!). They’ll get up right away, but that’s OK. If you're really on your game you can add "Let's go play in the sink."
3. Remove yourself from the child. For example, if they're hurting you. So, if they hit, gently take their hand and say calmly "don’t hit. that hurts. You must be gentle (and demonstrate gentle)." If they do it again, then get up and say "Don’t hit, that hurts. I won’t play with you if you hit." and walk away.
Dd liked to bite when nursing. The first time she did it, I said "no" and stopped nursing for a bit. The second time in the same session, we were done. It took her about 3 days to learn not to. (And then she went through a period where she'd be tempted to bite, but would shake her head 'no' while nursing. While funny, that was actually much more painful.)
4. If you’re losing it, then it’s probably best to separate yourself from your child until you’re calm enough to deal with them reasonably. I had to do this on some long days with our both our kids. I'd plop them in their cribs/rooms, and after 3-5 minutes, I could deal with him again.
After our kids turned 3, we do timeouts in our house on occasion. Almost always it's when things have gotten out of hand we need to separate to keep ourselves sane/safe. If my kids hit, they were levitated to their rooms until they calmed down. When I'm tempted to spank my kids, I immediately leave the room. (I took a walk down to the corner and back during chore time last week because dd had really set me off. My kids now stomp to their rooms and slam their doors when they're mad. Huge progress.)
Sometimes we send a child to their room for interminable whining. If you've been offered a hug, a cuddle and an alternative to whatever is making you whine, and you're STILL whining or screaming, it's time for you to go be by yourself.
My kids often feed off of my negative energy, so a separation (either me putting myself in my room or putting them in their room) was effective in breaking the cycle.