409473 At what age do you suggest to start disciplining toddlers? What are first rules of effective discipline (what words do we use etc)? We have no idea as this is our first child and don't want to use our parents' form of (physical) discipline. 

Disciplining toddlers is a huge topic and requires a number of different factors.  Perhaps it is easier at this point to give some tips on disciplining toddlers.  Babies are aware from day one and learning from what you as parents do and learning about their world around them.  So well before your baby becomes a toddler you as a parent are shaping, influencing and guiding their behaviour.  So there is quite a lot of ground work that happens before the age of 1 or 2 years.

As a parent, I certainly support the view that there is no need at all for physical discipline of hitting, smacking or that type of punishment in order to have children that are well behaved and do what is expected of them.

Psychologists recommend a time out technique from the age of 2 years onwards until 12 years for more serious behaviour, like definite defiance or behaviour designed to really push mum or dads buttons.  Certainly not for the minor, irriatating behaviours. Under 2 yrs is not recommended.  Parents also need to learn how to use the time out effectively and properly, I see many parents using it inappropriately and it will not work.

With these behaviours I teach parents how to use their attention – looking, listening, touching and talking to encourage and reinforce the behaviours they want to teach their toddler ie.  Joining in when they are playing well independently, reading books, smiling, commenting and helping when toddlers are tidying up, eating well, buckling up co-operatively etc.  But when the situation starts to unravel, then I teach parents to not do these things, just leave their child to their own company.  Not to react, not to yell, smack,force, grab etc.  Just to let it go!  Then before the next time,(or ideally before the first time) as a parent you also need to teach your child what is desirable, correct or a better way to handle that situation, show, model how to pour a drink, how to tidy up, how to ask for a turn with a toy.  Then their chance of success is greatly increased.  The hard part is knowing when to step in with other kids about!

As a parent you are a great role model yourself.  If you are teaching a toddler not to hit but are in fact hitting them, it is so confusing as they certainly learn by copying and imitating everything you do.

Understanding how children learn is a great start to working out how to and when, if needed to discipline.

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