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Promoting Positive Behaviour in Your Toddler


mom hugging toddler to her chest


Positive discipline is not about punishment, rather, it is about helping your child understand how to fit into the world in a thoughtful, healthy, and productive way.

Here are some tips on how to promote positive behaviour.

Talk With Your Toddler

  • Get your toddler’s attention and make eye contact before you speak.
  • Use a gentle touch.
  • Keep your words clear, simple and direct. Saying, “Please put that down” is more direct than, “Cut it out.”
  • Make only one request at a time. Your toddler cannot react to two or three requests at the same time.
  • Use positive communication. Try to tell your toddler what to do instead of what not to do. Saying, “Please ride on the sidewalk ” is more positive than, “Don’t ride on the street.”
  • For every “No,” try to offer two reasonable choices. “No, that paper is for Daddy. But you can play with this book or this toy.”
  • Use “please” and “thank you” whenever you can.

Provide a Safe and Stimulating Environment

Keep Routines

  • Organize your day around regular naps and mealtimes.
  • Keep to bedtime routines.
  • Balance active and quiet times.
  • Tell your toddler about any changes in routine that will be happening.
  • Pay attention to your toddler, even if you're busy.

Set Good Examples

  • Be calm and patient.
  • Model the behaviour you want to see in your toddler (such as sharing or taking turns).
  • Gently remind your toddler about limits - he has a short attention span and can quickly forget what you’ve said.
  • Avoid reacting in angry or defensive ways. 

Praise Good Behaviour

  • "Catch" your toddler behaving well and tell her right away: "I really like the way you are playing gently with your sister."
  • Tell your toddler what you like about her behaviour. (Examples: "Thank you for using your quiet voice at Grandma’s house," or "I really like that you are holding my hand while we cross the street.")

Focus on Cooperation, Not Control

  • Offer appropriate choices, usually no more than two.
  • Show your toddler how to cooperate: "I will read you a story after you’ve picked up the blocks."
  • Talk about conflicts: "I can see that you are angry at Tim for taking the ball."
  • Offer solutions to conflict: "Maybe you can let Tim have a turn and then he'll give you a turn."

Resources & Links:

Your Child’s Feelings
Managing Your Toddler's Frustrating Behaviours

Last Updated: January 30, 2018