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What are some gentle discipline strategies for toddlers?

Hi there,

I am a new parent to a 2-year-old toddler and I am having a hard time disciplining him without being too harsh. I have read about gentle discipline strategies, but I am not sure where to start. My child is starting to throw tantrums and refuse to listen to me at times, which can be frustrating. I want to discipline him in a way that doesn't involve yelling, hitting, or time-outs. Can anyone recommend some effective gentle discipline strategies for toddlers?

Thank you in advance!

All Replies


Hey there!

As a mom of two, I always try to make sure that the discipline strategies I use for my toddlers are gentle but also effective. One of my favorite strategies is using natural consequences. For example, if my toddler refuses to put on their jacket before going outside, I will tell her that it might be too cold without it but if she still refuses to put it on, then she will learn that it is cold and will have to go back inside to get her jacket. This will help her associate a consequence with her actions, and hopefully she will be more likely to listen in the future.

Another strategy that I find very useful is giving warnings before doing something. For example, if my toddler is playing too rough or not sharing toys with his sibling, I would give him a warning and let him know that this behavior is not acceptable. If he continues, I will take away the toy or let him know that he has to sit for a few minutes. This helps him learn that his actions have consequences and helps him think about his behavior.

Lastly, I try to implement a lot of positive reinforcement when my kids are behaving well. I find that when we continuously praise them for what they do well, they will feel good about themselves and try to behave better. For example, if my toddler shares his toy with his sibling, I would tell him how proud I am of him for being such a good brother/sister, and how kind and loving he is.

I hope these gentle parenting strategies work for you and your toddler. Keep in mind that consistency is key, and don't be too hard on yourself - parenting is tough, but we got this!



As a mother of 3 young children, I completely understand the challenges of disciplining a toddler without being too harsh. One strategy that has always worked for me is using positive reinforcement in the form of rewards when my child has behaved well. For example, I would give my toddler a sticker, a small toy or even a hug and praise when she cleaned up her toys without being told to do so. This simple yet effective approach helps the child associate positive feelings with good behavior, and they will eventually learn to repeat these actions.

Another gentle discipline strategy that has worked so far is distraction. When my 2-year-old daughter exhibits negative behavior such as throwing tantrums or refusing to listen, I would distract her with something interesting like a game, a stimulating toy or play a fun song. This helps take their focus away from the negative behavior, and they move on to something positive.

Finally, I find it helpful to use logic and reasoning to explain to my toddler why their actions were wrong. Sometimes, it's just not enough to say "Don't do that," instead, I would explain the consequences of their actions or how their behavior can affect other people. For example, I would tell her how her loud screaming can disturb the neighbors, and that she needs to be quieter next time.

These gentle parenting strategies have been helpful for me, but keep in mind that every child is unique and may have different reactions. The most important thing is to show your child that you love them and care about their well-being, and discipline them with patience, love and mutual respect.


Hi there,

As a first-time parent to a 2-year-old, I have been reading a lot about gentle discipline strategies for toddlers. One approach that has been very effective for me is using positive phrasing in requests. Instead of telling my child what not to do, I tell him what to do. For instance, rather than saying "Don't run," I would say "Let's walk slowly." This approach helps him focus on what he should be doing rather than what he should not be doing.

Another strategy that has worked well for me is giving my child some power and control. This means giving him options to choose from when I want him to do something. For example, I would say "Do you want to put on your shoes or your jacket first?" This approach helps him feel like he has some power and control over the situation and, in turn, encourages him to cooperate.

Finally, whenever my toddler misbehaves, I try to address his behavior by talking to him in a calm and respectful tone rather than yelling or physically punishing him. I try to explain to him why his behavior is not acceptable and encourage him to express how he feels, helping him come up with some alternatives to his negative behaviors.

In summary, gentle discipline strategies involve respecting your child, understanding their needs and personalities, and guiding them towards positive behaviors. As a parent, it is important to be patient, consistent, and loving, and to remember that disciplining your child is a process that should be approached with care and attention.


Hello everyone,

As a father of a 3-year-old daughter, I can relate very well to how challenging it can be to employ gentle discipline strategies with toddlers. One approach that has worked for us at home is redirecting. For example, when our daughter is not cooperating in cleaning up her toys, instead of getting angry, we would offer to help her, with a cheerful smile and indicate that we can make it into a fun activity. This way, we redirect her attention from the negative behavior to something more positive and productive.

Another effective approach is using humor. Toddlers can respond well to humor when they are being disciplined, and it is one of the gentlest forms of discipline. For example, when our daughter throws a tantrum in public, instead of getting angry or punishing her, we sometimes do a silly dance, make funny faces, or pretend to fall and encourage her to join in. This approach usually works well in calming her down, and she responds better than when we use a harsher disciplinary method.

Finally, one essential thing that has been helpful is not sweating the small stuff. Young children are still learning and developing, and some behavior is perfectly normal at certain developmental stages. It can be helpful to prioritize unacceptable behavior and address them while letting go of some minor misbehaviors. This does not mean that you ignore unacceptable behavior, but you can focus on the ones that can be physically harmful or impact your child's development negatively.

I hope these gentle parenting strategies are helpful. Remember, it's all about making a connection with your child, loving them, and being patient with them as they navigate through life.


Hi there,

I completely understand how you feel as I was in a similar situation a few months ago. My son was also 2 years old and was acting out at times, which made it difficult for me to discipline him without being too harsh. I decided to implement some gentle discipline strategies that would help me correct his behavior without resorting to any negative actions.

Here are some gentle discipline strategies that have worked for me:

1. Positive reinforcement - When my son does something good, I make sure to praise him and give him positive reinforcement. This way he feels appreciated and knows that he is doing the right thing.

2. Provide choices - I found that giving my son choices rather than demanding him to do something helped him feel in control and reduced his stress levels. For instance, instead of saying "You have to take a bath now", I say "Do you want to take a bath before dinner or after?"

3. Time-ins - Instead of time-outs, I implemented a time-in strategy. Whenever my son throws a tantrum, I try to empathize with him and talk to him calmly about his emotions. This has helped him calm down and express himself better.

4. Redirecting attention - When my son is misbehaving, I try to redirect his attention to something else, like a toy or a book, to distract him from the problematic behavior.

I hope this helps! Remember that each child is different, so what works for my son may not work for yours. It's important to keep trying different strategies until you find what works best for you and your child. Good luck!


Hello there,

I have a 3-year-old daughter who can be challenging to handle at times, and like you, I believe in gentle discipline strategies. One thing I believe in is the importance of establishing boundaries and clear expectations. When my daughter was a bit younger, I found that setting consistent boundaries helped her better understand what was expected of her, and therefore, she would be less likely to misbehave. This involved setting boundaries around mealtime, bedtime, and even playtime. For instance, I would let her know that it was time to brush her teeth before bed, or that she could only have screen time for an hour per day.

Another strategy that I would recommend is the use of positive language when communicating with your toddler. This means that instead of saying "Don't run!" or "Stop hitting your sister!", use more positive language such as "Walk slowly, please!" or "Let's use our hands gently. Can you pat her back gently?". Kids tend to respond better when they hear positive language, as they are more likely to understand what is expected of them.

Finally, it's important to model the behavior that you want to see in your child. Children, especially toddlers, look up to their parents as role models. This means that if you want your child to be polite or respectful, you should exhibit those behaviors yourself. Also, when your child misbehaves, try to remain composed and avoid shouting or becoming aggressive. A calm and gentle approach usually works better in getting your toddler to cooperate.

I hope this helps you out, don't be too hard on yourself, parenting can be tough, but you're doing great!



As a preschool teacher, I have worked with many toddlers over the years and have seen different parenting styles and discipline strategies. One approach that I believe works very well is giving children the opportunity to express themselves. This involves allowing them to use their words to explain what they are feeling and why they acted in a particular way. This approach helps children understand the consequences of their actions and helps them think about how they can do better.

Another approach that I have found to be effective is setting expectations early on. Toddlers are still learning and need structure to guide them. Setting clear boundaries and expectations at home will help your child understand what is expected of them and what behavior is acceptable. This could involve establishing routines that are consistent such as bath time, bedtime, mealtime, and playtime, and setting the same expectations across all caregivers including grandparents and babysitters.

Finally, I would suggest modeling positive behavior at home. As parents or caregivers, our children look up to us and encourage them to follow our footsteps. Show your child what you would like them to emulate, such as being kind, polite, empathetic, and respectful. When you exhibit positive behavior, your child will pick that up and be more likely to respond in the same way.

In conclusion, remember that discipline is not just about punishment; it's also about teaching and guiding your child. Be consistent, be patient, be kind, and your little one will eventually learn to behave positively on their own.

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