disciplining your toddlerDiscipline can be one of the most difficult aspects of parenthood. The test of wills can leave you frustrated and tired. Disciplining a toddler is about more than spanking them, it focuses on setting boundaries while stopping dangerous, aggressive or inappropriate behavior. Here are a few tips to help you through the discipline process.

Pick Your Battles You’ve heard it a million times, but decide whether or not an action is necessary. Picking your battles clarifies your priorities and makes life easier. Define realistic limits and follow through with appropriate consequences. Don’t spend too much time focusing on habits that your children will outgrow, like only wearing fireman rain boots.

Understand Your Child’s Triggers and Limits Toddlers are curious in nature and can’t help but explore the area around them. Eliminate the temptations of electronics and small choking hazards. Doing so will reduce the chances they get into something they are not supposed to be in. It’s also important to recognize your child’s limits. Many children tend to act out when they are hungry, tired or frustrated.

Remain Consistent It’s a tale as old as time, children testing parents will. Remaining consistent in your responses sends a clear message as to what behavior will not be tolerated. Each child is different and some take longer than others to stop certain behaviors. Consistency is key in discipline. If you want your children to adhere to the rules, you must do the same. Making threats without following through undermine your authority.

Don’t Get Emotional While it is often easier said than done, screaming out of anger doesn’t do much to resolve the situation. Rather than raising your voice, take a deep breath, calm down and move to your child’s level. Be firm, serious and stern when delivering the warning or punishment.

Make It Short Reasoning with a toddler can be a waste of time. When explaining to your child what they have done wrong, do so on their level. When reprimanding your children, speak in short phrases, repeat them often and incorporate facial expressions to further signify your emotion.

Give Time Out If the other discipline tactics fail to stop the behaviors, consider placing them in time out for a minute per year of age. I many cases, the threat of a time out will stop a toddler in their tracks.

Stay Positive It is normal to feel stressed and frustrated with your child’s behavior. Although, it is important that you stay positive in front of your child. Avoid talking negatively about the child and their behavior in front of them. This can only make the situation worse.

Finding yourself stressed is a normal part of parenthood. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or the perfect child. Before you lose your temper and pull your hair out, talk with a spouse or friend for support and advice.