Setting boundaries for your toddler will pay off

The happiest toddlers are those who have the freedom to live and explore within very clear, consistent boundaries. Create a very short list of absolute no-nos. This includes aggressive behavior (biting, hitting, kicking) or dangerous activities (climbing up a bookshelf, for example). Remember to keep it simple — too many rules can overwhelm a young child.

Try time outs

When one of these no-nos occur, you should immediately and consistently make a frown, use a calm but clear voice and say, “No (biting). Time out.” Then remove the child from the situation and place them in a safe place (a playpen in a quiet room works well). Do this without further lecturing. Then walk away for a minute or two. When the “time out” is over, provide her with a new activity. Repeat this whenever the undesirable behavior occurs. Almost certainly, within a few days, she will give up and find some new annoying thing to do. Some weeks will be rough, others will be great.

Never hit

Regardless of how frustrated you get, don’t hit your child. Research shows that children who are hit by grown-ups become hitters themselves. Now is the time to choose better means of discipline.

Offer praise

Remember, it’s not easy being corrected all day, so if you’re finding yourself in conflict with your child most of the time, work toward a more positive place. A helpful rule of thumb: 90 percent of what you say to your toddler should be praise. The more praise he gets, the more he will listen, and the better he will feel about himself. Thus, he will be more likely to behave. Praise anything that isn’t misbehavior (“Great job standing still, Jack”). Tell your child how much you love him, and tell him often. Remind him, even when his behavior is bad, that he’s a great kid.

Be consistent

Remember, you are the parent. Don’t let your toddler run your household. With humor and consistency, your effort in establishing effective discipline for your child will pay off when they are about 4 years old. By which time, you will have a happy, well-adjusted child who presents fewer challenges.

Learn more about rules and discipline for these age groups: