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Getting a Grip on Toddler Discipline

Lately it seemed like not a single day goes by where somebody in the house isn’t yelling at Gavin or telling him off about something.  Gavin has been testing our limits to the nth degree and “he’s out of control” seem to be the words that get thrown around an awful lot.

After always hearing what a well-behaved boy Gavin is from many outsiders, this change in behaviour has really been distressing me.  What’s gotten into my son, I wonder?  Is it sibling rivalry?  Is it the “terrible threes”?  Or is it simply bad parenting on my part?

Despite all my best efforts not to get mad at Gavin, I find myself yelling at him at an alarmingly frequent rate.  Not only do I hate yelling at Gavin, I also worry about what all the yelling and screaming is doing to Gareth’s subconscious development.  I’m sure it can’t be good because we know from The Science of Parenting what stress can do to an infant’s developing mind.

I’ve always believed in gentle discipline – no violence and no smacking.  I would like to think that it also includes a minimum of yelling, if at all.  However, whether that was at all possible for me, I had begun to doubt of late. I’ve never been a particularly patient person and although I think being a mother to Gavin has done a lot to improve my patience considerably, I’m still far from being patient.  I’ve also always had a short fuse which has lengthened somewhat after having Gavin, however, I’m still far from having a “cool” head.  Add that mix to a toddler experiencing sibling rivalry while going through the terrible threes and you have the fourth of July.

When I was browsing through a book shop, the “No-Cry Discipline Solution” by Elizabeth Pantley caught my eye.  Having read a glowing review on the “No-Cry Sleep Solution” on Mummy’s Reviews which is also by the same author, I decided to get the book.  I’m glad I did because reading through this book has helped me to get back in touch with my belief in gentle discipline.  I no longer feel as close to the edge of the parenting precipice as I did before.

The first thing that the book does is to banish the myths regarding parenting.  I think in order to be able to discipline well, we really do need to banish the myths that bind us.  Once our expectations of ourselves as parents and of our children are no longer irrationally tied by these myths, we can banish the guilt and/or helplessness that prevents us from being good disciplinarians.

I thought it was worthwhile listing some of the myths here:

  • If a parent is truly attached, committed, and connected to a child, then that child will naturally behave properly; discipline won’t be necessary.
  • If you love your child and if your intentions are good, parenting will come naturally to you.
  • Good parents don’t lose their patience and shout at their children.
  • If parents are a perfectly matched couple and have a strong relationship, they will agree about how to raise their children.
  • Parents are totally responsible for their child’s behaviour and actions.  Outstanding parenting means that children will turn out well.
  • If you read parenting books, take classes, and learn effective skills and tools, you will always be in control.  Once you learn all the correct parenting approaches, your life as a parent will be trouble free.

I think a lot of my doubts regarding discipline have stemmed from the belief that Gavin’s behaviour of late has been a reflection of my poor parenting.  If I had been raising Gavin right, he wouldn’t be behaving like this.  But the fact is, Gavin is a child beginning to discover the world and the power of autonomy.  We would have been tasked by these behaviours regardless of how I raised him.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t matter how I have raised him.  Most importantly is how we move forward from this point and I think the No-Cry Discipline Solution gives some pretty good tips on that.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

2 thoughts on “Getting a Grip on Toddler Discipline

  1. I bought the book months ago too, knowing that it’d come in useful as my boy grows. Just last week, I took the book out and plan to read it since the 12-month old is showing signs of testing boundaries. Parenting is a very challenging duty indeed.

    By the way, I also bought The No-Cry Potty Training Solution long time ago and the pre-potty training steps worked marvelously on my son since he was 7-8 months old. He has been letting go (pee / poo) in the potty regularly since that age. The book has helped me make potty-time a positive and encouraging experience, and part of our daily routine. I am looking forward to him being diaper-free by around his 2nd birthday, when he can talk and have better control over his body.


  2. MieVee – tell me about it. Just when you think you have it all under control, they grow again and everything changes! It’s a never ending journey of discovery.

    We had Gavin pooped trained by about 7-8 months as well following “Diaper Free”. We lost the plot after a trip to Australia where the weather was cold and he refused to have his bottom exposed. Glad to say that he’s peeing and pooping quite consistently in the toilet now. We still have our accidents and diaper days but it’s generally been good. Still working on getting him off night time diapers because he still pees in his sleep.


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