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How to Discipline a One Year Old Who Slaps & Scratches

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

She’s not a baby anymore but at the same time she’s not quite old enough to reason with. Parenting a 1-year-old means you have a little more freedom in that she can entertain herself nearby while you get dinner ready or pick up before guests arrive, but you have your work cut out for you making sure her behavior is on point. Since she’s not quite there yet when it comes to communicating her displeasure with you, you might notice that she’s beginning to express her displeasure in other ways, such as scratching and biting -- leaving you with the job of figuring out how to discipline her.

Tell your 1-year-old to stop when you catch him scratching or slapping, advises KidsHealth. Once he stops doing it, explain to him in simple terms that it’s unacceptable to behave in this manner. Since he’s only 1, a long-winded explanation is ineffective. It’s better to simply tell him that he does not scratch or slap people because it hurts them.

Put your 1-year-old in time-out. According to KidsHealth, time-out is an effective form of discipline for a child this age. When you catch her slapping or scratching someone and after you’ve explained to her that her actions are unacceptable, it’s time to enforce discipline. Do this by taking her to a corner or a time-out spot away from her toys and anything that might interest her and tell her to stay there for one full minute. Some parents find that it is effective to use a quiet corner in the hallway or even a specific chair that is used only for instances involving time-outs.

Remove your toddler from time-out and let him get back to his fun. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one minute in time-out is sufficient when disciplining for slapping or scratching -- no more is necessary once he has served his time. Don't lecture him further or make him sit down and listen to you tell him again how bad it is to slap or scratch.

Stay consistent, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even with a child as young as 1, you have to be consistent when you discipline her for her negative behavior. If you fail to discipline her for her behavior when you’re at home but you do discipline her when she scratches or slaps you in public, she won't learn a lesson.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

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