Memoirs of a Mummy

Toddler Discipline: It’s Complicated

In a few weeks, we will finally be saying good bye to the terrible two’s. I can’t wait to say good bye to picky eating, selective deafness, fake cries and uncooperation. Don’t get me wrong. I love Aki to the moon and back. However, he goes from being the apple of my eye to being a pebble in my shoe in a snap. I love him every minute every second of the day but there is these 15 minutes where all I just want to be away from Franco’s crying and demanding son.

Let me take minute or two to document what worked for us during the terrible twos.

1. Saying what I mean the first time I say it. I wish I learned about this earlier. The longer the time frame between the warning and consequence, the more ineffective warnings become. I learned this from Elizabeth Pantley. The first time I consciously tried to use this technique was when Aki was glued to the TV in my in-laws house. I told him it is time to go but he was ignoring me. I told him that I am leaving after 10 seconds. Instead of saying Iiwan na kita (I am going to leave you) 20 times like I used to, I did what I said I would do and left him there. On my walk home,  I kept looking back, hoping to see or hear a crying toddler running after me. I got home but still no sign of Aki. This may sound bad but I let out a big sigh of relief when he finally came home crying.

It is actually easier said than done. Once, when I was working on our weekly menu, Aki picked up my cookbooks and threw them on the floor. I told him that if he won’t   pick up the books, I won’t take him to the grocery with me. He didn’t do what I said so even if it broke my heart to see him begging to go with me, I left him.


In this picture Aki is sleeping without a pillow. I told him that if  he still won’t let me brush his teeth  after I count to 10, he will not have any pillow that night. My boy only cooperated after the countdown. I so wanted to share my pillow with him that night but I had to stick to my word.

2. Counting.  This works , although not all the time, when I want Aki to stop doing something and do something else. For example, after bath time, instead of saying, “Time to get dressed now”, I say “You have 10 seconds and then it is time to say good bye to the water. 10, 9 ..”  Or “You can play with that for 10 more seconds but after playing  you have to pack away. 10, 9.” I am still surprised whenever this technique works. Sometimes, Aki thinks it is a game and wraps things up even before I finish counting. I can’t remember where I read that kids need time to transition from one activity to another but to who ever wrote that, Thank you! The more I use this, the more it becomes effective.

3. Giving  time outs. For Aki, I escort him out of the house. Of course I make sure the gate is locked and I secretly watch him.

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