Q. There’s no disciplining my two-year-old son. He does not care about consequences. If I threaten him with time out for hitting his sister, he walks up, whacks her and then walks in his room and sits in time out. We have taken away his toys and nothing works —why doesn’t he care?
A. The self-imposed exile is always an interesting move. What does this tell you? Your son needs to be in control and have power. That's what he cares about and that is what you will give and take away. He needs to learn how to earn control rather than maniacally reign over the entire family and eventually, school.
Never threaten—simply do. Make very firm statements such as, “You hit your sister. Hitting is dangerous and unacceptable. The next time you want to do something the answer will be no.” You then make him care for his sister’s tears and he will play with her in a kid way.
To see the rest of Lonna's answer, read more.
Now, this next step is tricky; he will have a request, something he will want to do, it doesn’t matter what it is — watch a show, take a long bath — you must say, “Oh, you made the choice to hurt your sister. Because you hurt her you will not be able to watch your show. Hopefully tomorrow you will make better choices”. This will give you the power to be in charge, but also gives your clever boy the power to choose his future behavior and subsequent consequences. After a few weeks of being very watchful of what he values and taking those privileges away without emotion, simply as a matter of consequence to his poor behavior, he will begin to care and his behavior will improve.
Also important to note: Do praise him as soon as you notice he tries to change poor choices. For example, if there is another time he walks away from hitting his sister say, “ I noticed you controlled your behavior and I really love that!” The praise for the authentic and good behavior will be something he cares about.
— Lonna Corder
Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit lonnacorder.com.
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