How to Punish a 2-Year-Old Child

by Contributor

A 2-year-old can be difficult to control. Children at this age want to be independent but are not quite old enough to do the things they want to do, so they tend to get emotional. At 2, children have trouble controlling their emotions, and they like to push their limits to see how their parents will react. Punishing or disciplining a 2-year-old can be challenging.

Explain the rules, in language your 2-year-old can understand. Give her simple rules, such as sharing toys, not hitting siblings and going to bed when told.

Let your toddler know there will be consequences if she breaks the rules.

Decide what the consequences will be, and tell your child what will happen if she disobeys. Make sure your child will understand the reasoning behind a punishment. For example, if you are using time out as a consequence, be aware that some 2-year-olds may not understand the concept.

Establish what will work for your child. One consequence might be sitting still for a set amount of time. Choose a chair or a [rug](https://society6.com/rugs?utm_source=SFGHG&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=8775) for the spot where the child must sit still for two minutes (or the decided time). When the time-out or punishment has ended, go over the rules and the specific reason your child was punished to make sure she fully understands what she did wrong.

Another idea: Just change the setting. Sometimes you can tame an out-of-control toddler by going from a wild activity or a temper tantrum to doing a quiet, calm task. If the child is playing with toys or running around the house and destroying things, steer her in the direction of coloring or reading some books together.

Stick with it, once you find something that works. Persistence is key when you are attempting to tame a rambunctious 2-year-old.

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Items you will need

  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Love
  • Understanding


  • Think out of the box to find a punishment that allows your child to learn about right and wrong.
  • Remember things will usually get better when the child is older and can understand consequences and choices a little better.
  • Physical punishment typically doesn't work and is unnecessary; finding other alternatives is usually your best bet as a parent.

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