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Is it possible to discipline a 18 month old?

(28 Posts)
HyperThread Mon 22-Dec-14 20:10:25

Is it possible discipline to a 18 month old? How do you do it?

To give you some examples of today:

- Chucked food on the floor
- Refused to sit in the highchair
- Chucked all the toys and water out of the bath on to the floor
- Refused to get in the bath
- Refused to get nappy changed

All of these were followed by screaming, crying, etc

If I tell her off she either ignores me completely or laughs in my face sad

How do I manage this? I'm feeling quite overwhelmed by it all.

Blondebiker4685 Mon 22-Dec-14 20:14:50

I bet a lot of it is attention seeking. Chucking food means he's finished eating and he's not interested. Try less water and less toys in the bath. Turn getting changed into a fun game

CharlotteCollins Mon 22-Dec-14 20:28:38

I wish I had been a bit firmer with DD1 at that age. I hadn't a clue how to do it, though. She laughed in my face, too and I was overwhelmed.

Now I've had four DCs go through that age, I would say: she won't understand telling off. What she will understand is "no" and also you sticking to your guns.

Decide what is important and stick to it. If it were me, I would decide that it's important that she learns not to chuck food on the floor. So when she does it the first time, tell her "no, no throwing food, DD". Then if she does it again, end the meal. That way, she can't do it again.

No point getting cross with her. Be as patient and as firm as you can.

But toys out of the bath, I would decide that's not worth the battle. When mine threw the toys out, I would leave them out because I hated the "throwing them out, get them back, throw them out again" routine. Once they'd chucked them all, they'd lost them all and that helped me to stay sane! Have an old towel to mop up the spills. Put less water in her bath for a while, so she can make less mess. Or remove the scoopy toys so she can't tip water out.

Sometimes, I think it's fine to use your bigger strength. So, I would strap her into her highchair so she has no choice, lift her into the bath and make sure she's safe in the water if she's flailing arms and legs around in the water.

Nappy change is a difficult one - have a special thing she can only play with at those times. If that doesn't work, give her pull-up pants instead. I did that. If she's wanting a bit more independence, she will love feeling like a big girl with those. I still had to insist my DC lay down for pooey changes, but at least that reduces the battles!

CharlotteCollins Mon 22-Dec-14 20:30:05

Agree with attention-seeking. So give her lots of positive attention at other times, and minimal attention when she's behaving in a way you don't want her to.

MmeLindor Mon 22-Dec-14 20:33:47

I don't think they really understand it at that age. They are testing boundaries, and yes, a bit of attention seeking.

Agree with Charlotte - pick your battles. If she chucks food on the floor, then mealtime is over, but e.g. she has to put up with being put in highchair / car seat etc.

You can't really discipline her, but you can show her boundaries. But kindly - not shouting, just ignore the tantrum and carry on. Not easy, but you will get through it.

girliefriend Mon 22-Dec-14 20:42:10

Blimey sounds like a tough day hope you are sat down with wine now grin

I think I would say no firmly followed by consequence, so food on floor means meal time is over (completely ignore ant tantruming, work on tuning it out wink)

refusing to sit in high chair means she doesn't eat (although if she doesn't like the high chair could you get her one of those booster seats so she can sit on a normal chair at the table?)

Chucks toys out the bath means bathtime is over, refusing to get in the bath means gritting your teeth and dunking her in for a quick once over!!

Nappy change is tricky, try and aim for when she is distracted ie cbeebies is on or has a toy/book she can look at. However at this age I swapped nappies for the pull up type as easier to put on a child standing up!!

Sympathies, it is hard work but a good piece of advice some one gave me when I was feeling overwhelmed was 'children are a bit like dogs, show no fear' grin

Boomtownsurprise Mon 22-Dec-14 20:44:14

I found the best thing was pantomime. Lots of extreme faces. Hand movements. Mummy's sad, cross, happy, yucky food whatever it's about learning different emotions and boundaries.

And the word No.

JuxaSnogUndertheMistletoe Mon 22-Dec-14 21:01:58

I doubt that any child has the capacity to understand punishment, discipline etc at that age, and unlikely to have the memory for it eiyher, and definitely won't have developed the all-important frontal lobe functioning they need, not at 18m.

rastamam Mon 22-Dec-14 21:24:28

I think my ds has responded really well to me clapping him for behaving well, even to the extent of coming over to me to lie down nicely for his nappy to be done, then I sing him a song, well done for sitting very nicely, and he claps with me. May not last of course but I can hope! I also made his nappy mat into a 'surf board' and make it fun for him to lie on and get swooshed around first. And when he is running around refusing to get in the bath I go and sit by the bath and chat to all his toys in there and he soon comes in to join the fun. I dont know if any of this will continue to work or whether hel tire of it!or whether its even a good idea as its not disciplining him but avoiding confrontation I guess!? I havent found anything yet that stops him throwing the food he doesnt want on the floor so will watch thread with interest!

hoppus Mon 22-Dec-14 21:37:47

I have an 18mo too and I just say NO in a firm, but not loud or threatening, voice if she is doing something dangerous and then distract and move on straight away. If she wont cooperate at meal/bath/nappy time I explain what is happening and why and make everything into a game, give her some control and praise lots when she does the right thing. I think they understand a lot more than they let on. She definitely realises when she is being naughty as she glances around all guilty looking!

Blondebiker4685 Mon 22-Dec-14 21:39:00

If you go heavily down the 'no' route, you will create lots of unnecessary head to head battles. Save your no's for more important dangerous times. Use playful parenting, fun, silly games and lots of positive attention to encourage good behaviour. I have been known to walk off (in a safe environment) if my toddler acts up. No attention for bad behaviour works a treat

hoppus Mon 22-Dec-14 21:43:19

When mine starts chucking food I stick my hand out and say Ta and she now hands me the bits she doesn't want or is finished with. Only slightly better than dropping it on the floor! At the end of the meal she hands her plate but I have about three seconds to take it before she gives up and drops it. I think maybe they just aren't sure what to do with the food they don't want

Gabriola Mon 22-Dec-14 21:45:26

I used to keep a little photo book handy for nappy changes. It had pictures of me, daddy and dc's in. Worked every time. They never got it at any other time, only when they were having their nappy changed.

CharlotteCollins Mon 22-Dec-14 21:45:47

Yes, head-to-head battles was my big mistake with DD1. She loved the drama of "no". I tried Supernanny techniques before I'd ever watched Supernanny - but got tired of the "replace on naughty step and walk away calmly" long before she did. She thought the whole thing was brilliant and would happily have played the naughty step game all day, I think. fhmm

I think playful parenting etc is discipline. Discipline and teaching DC about boundaries are the same thing in my mind.

Blondebiker4685 Mon 22-Dec-14 22:12:23

My three of my kids wanted to be on my good side. Despite my calmness, the other one liked the ripples of not being on my good side. It's taken a lot of positivity, play, fun, acceptance, routines and really holding him in good regard to turn things around. Essentially I think it boiled down to him being a particularly sensitive child and me not quite knowing how to get the best out of him.

EugenesAxe Mon 22-Dec-14 22:48:37

I'd say in a nutshell, no. You distract, voice what's acceptable and not, but as people have said if you show that what your DD is doing is bothering you she will probably do it more.

It's very hard to just be nonchalant, but you must and make a big deal of the right behaviour.

Mrscog Tue 23-Dec-14 06:38:06

It's hard, and I'd agree with the pick your battles thing, throwing toys/food etc is just developmental. I always ignored it and DS is now 2.9 and doesn't throw food. Don't assume you need to discipline all behaviour that would be bad for an older child/adult to do.

For bath refusal I'd just go with it, they don't need a bath every day - every 3 days or so is fine so you cut the battles down there.

I just used my force for nappy changes, I couldn't find any other way and DS would wear the same shitty nappy all day if given the chance!

AggressiveBunting Tue 23-Dec-14 06:41:39

Ignoring bad behaviour definitely the best strategy at this age so

- bath toys out of the bath- say nothing but dont put them back in
- throwing food- say nothing , just take the plate away
- refuses to sit in high chair- no lunch until they do. I'd just sit down and start eating mine.
- doesnt want to get in bath- physically put in bath
- doesnt want nappy- switch to pull ups. way less drama.

reallystuckonthisone Tue 23-Dec-14 06:42:16

I tend to say "No" and distract immediately. And praise good behaviour. Does anyone else get the urge to giggle when they laugh in your face though? That's the hardest part for me - keeping a straight fact when tryingvto discipline blush

Blondebiker4685 Tue 23-Dec-14 07:17:34

If mine threw their bath toys out or food on the floor, it would signal end of bath/tea time

Distraction works well.

trilbydoll Tue 23-Dec-14 09:17:54

DH was trying to get DD to look at him and apologise the other night (she is 19mo) because she pushed him. Her eyes were all over the place, sideways, rolling up in her head, everywhere. I am ashamed to say I corpsed completely and was shaking with laughter.

We are trying to reinforce saying sorry, because she seems to really hate doing it, she gets a defiant look on her face. But generally, I go for the natural consequences, so if everything is on the floor, well, that is the end of mealtime / bath time etc.

DD also really fights the nappy and unfortunately I have nothing better than trying to distract her with a story etc and if that doesn't work, pinning her to the changing table with my weight. Not ideal!

katandkits Tue 23-Dec-14 09:26:00

I don't think its worth getting a toddler to say sorry, they have no idea what sorry means and haven't developed empathy for others yet. I think learning to apologise comes at least 2.5, maybe 3 years old. Before that they might repeat sorry because you made them do it, but they haven't really learnt anything.

i agree with the others. Lots and lots of praise for good behaviour and try to keep as calm as possible with the other stuff. Toddlers are hard enough work as it is, you don't want to make unnecessary battles.

Chunderella Tue 23-Dec-14 13:40:09

No, you can't discipline them at that age. You can make them say sorry, but they might as well say Cleethorpes or sayonara or begonia for all the understanding they'll have of it. There's no real point to the exercise. All you can do is try to train them out of it. Fwiw OP, what you describe is pretty common toddler behaviour. They don't all do it all the time, but most of them do some of it sometimes.

HyperThread Wed 24-Dec-14 00:01:25

Thanks everyone, some excellent tips! smile

BarbarianMum Wed 24-Dec-14 12:06:44

18 months was when I started with the naughty step - but only for supremely undesirable behaviours (ds1 biting; ds2 hair pulling) and only for 1 minute at a time. It worked fine but I wouldn't have extended it to all undesirable behaviour or life would have been 1 huge battle.

For the food chucking/nappy changing/don't want to hold your hand type dramas I used a mixture of picking my battles, distraction and superior physical strength (there is a good reason that toddlers are much, much smaller than their parents).

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