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Toddler Discipline

When it comes to children’s development there is advice of all sorts from all schools, and every new mom has to figure out for herself which pearls of wisdom work best for her. Some people say to ignore everyone’s advice and go only with your gut while others subscribe strictly to one school of thought or another. As for myself, I determined that what worked best for me was to listen to everyone’s advice and then cherry pick those pieces that seemed to feel right for me and my child. But now I’m stumped, because on the topic of toddler discipline there seems to be a universal truth – set rules and consequences for bad behavior and follow through on them. Fair enough – my daughter throws toys in the house, she gets a warning; she throws toys again, and I take them away. She can howl all she wants, but she’s not getting those toys back. But I just can’t seem to take the next leap for dealing with bad behaviors in public.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that you should have those same rules whether you’re at home or in a public place, and if you’re in the grocery store, for example, and your daughter ignores your warnings about using her “indoor voice,” that you should up and leave. Just abandon your cart full of groceries and head home. I have to admit, I just can’t do it. Time is too precious in our two-working-parents household to give up the 45 minutes I just spent filling my grocery cart in order to instill unwavering discipline in my child. This weekend I admittedly bribed my 2-year-old with a chocolate treat from the bakery section rather than abandon the flowers and cake I had selected to bring to my sister-in-law’s house for Easter.

And in retrospect I don’t regret my choice to be a thoughtful guest rather than tell my gracious hostess that I couldn’t bring the dessert I promised because I had to teach my daughter a lesson about using her listening ears. Am I wrong, or is it possible to raise a well-behaved child without supplanting all your other obligations?


  1. Vashta Wilson February 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Bribery works. If we think our child doesn’t know that you are in a compromising situation and will more than likely get his/her way…you’re kidding yourself.

    Your time will come where you can discipline and follow through with it.

    You made the right move….I bribe when I have to

    Congratulations on that one.

  2. Kristin P. February 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I agree with your decision to compromise then. Yes, time is too precious when it comes to certain errands that need to be made.
    I too wondered if I should leave my groceries, but a lady suggested that I try this: if my child throws a fit in the grocery/mall or wherever, I first give the warning to stop. if that does not work, I take his hand and we go to the nearest bathroom. My child knows then I am serious and I want him to behave. This way I am also consistent.

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