It is much easier to instill discipline in a child if you start when he is young, rather than wait until bad patterns have surfaced. At the same time, disciplining a 1-year-old is difficult because a child´s language and reasoning skills are still developing, so he may not understand or respond in the desired manner. Fortunately, with consistency and positive reinforcement, you can instill positive behavior in your child.
Babyproof your home. Your child may do things that you consider "bad" when she may be simply exploring her environment. Remove cords from her reach, reposition undesirable liquids and keep breakable objects in baby-safe locations.
Develop a routine. Young children thrive on routines and are more apt to behave well if they can anticipate the day´s schedule. Establish bedtime, nap time and meals. Stick to this schedule as much as possible. Order your day´s events so that your child will know when it is playtime, when he can expect to leave the house and when he will begin to settle down prior to bedtime.
State your expectations clearly. At this age, your child is still developing basic communication skills, so say what you mean in as few words as possible. Say, "Don´t hit" or, ¨Share your toy." Do not discuss the reason for your expectations. If you say, "It is not nice to hit," your 1-year-old will most likely not understand the concept of "nice."
Be consistent. If you see your child hit another child, always react in the same manner, such as by removing him from the other child or object of conflict. Your child should know what consequence to expect for bad behavior. With time, he will begin to understand that if he performs a specific action, he can expect a specific reaction.
Redirect your child to an appropriate activity when she is doing something wrong. If she is coloring on the walls, give her a coloring book. If she wants a book another child has, give her a different book or move her to a different area to work on a separate activity.
Use positive reinforcement. Say, "Good job," or hug your child when he does something you approve of, such as sharing a toy. Sometimes he may do things to get attention, but in a negative way. Ignore these overtures and reward his positive actions instead.
Create opportunities for her to become responsible. If your child purposely spills her bottle of milk on the kitchen floor, give her a towel to clean it up. Tell your child to put away her toys in her toy box. Children of this age are capable of understanding simple commands, and giving her responsibility helps her develop self-esteem and independence.
Demonstrate positive behavior. Your child looks to you for guidance, so if you want him to behave appropriately, you must behave as well. Do not yell or scream. Keep your voice calm and neutral when you are upset. Show your child when you share something with another adult or child.
- Know your child´s triggers. If you expect him to fight over a certain toy on a playdate, put the toy away before the visit. If your child gets grumpy when he has not eaten for a few hours, keep snacks readily available.
- Limit the amount of times you say no. Children hate rejection, so use more positive wording. If your child asks for candy, say, "You may have a piece after dinner." If your child is too loud, say, "Use your quiet voice," rather than, "Don´t yell." Your child is more likely to respond in a desirable manner, as well as pay more attention when you do use the word "no."
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.