My toddler won't listen to me, but is an angel to everyone else! How do I discipline?

Erin - posted on 04/28/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




I have a 15 month old daughter. She is an angel when she isn't with me but thinks she is "the boss" when I have her. I know her real father isn't much of a discipliner and I don't think spanking or hitting is necessary. My boyfriend, who doesn't have any children, thinks my daughter is beyond "no's" and small slaps on the hand. I strongly believe at this age, she is to young to know that me slapping her on the hand means she did something wrong and will hit me back thinking that it's okay because mommy did it. How do I discipline my daughter? I hope it's not too late. :-\

First time mom in relatively new relationship


[deleted account]

It is NOT too late to discipline your child - and yes you need to get this under control NOW - because imagine how aweful the next fifteen years will be if she doesn't learn how to listen?!

First of all I completly agree with you regarding slapping your child - all hitting does is teach your children it is okay to hit, especially if you are bigger!

The most common mistake that parents make is giving too many warnings with their child. For example, throwing food on the floor. First you can tell the child that food needs to stay on the plate (I try to always phrase things in a "positive language, telling children the behavior I WANT, instead of want not to do - for example, "this is a look only", rather than "Don't touch!") - Then when food winds up on the floor, you simply say, "ohh that is so sad - dinner is over" and remove all the food. Of course at this time yoru child will scream and cry and think they will STARVE to death from missing one meal. Trust me they won't starve. Slow learning/incredibly stubborn children may have several missed meals like this. But most children figure this out within 24 hours if you are consistant. Do NOT give multiple warnings - just simple action! if you give multiple warnings, all your child learns is, "I don't really have to listen to my mommy until she has asked/warned me at least three times"

You can also eliminate a TON of negative behaviors by giving choices. Children like to feel like they have some sort of control over their lives. For example tonight with my three year old, bathtime looked like this:

me: "Would you like lots of bubbles, or no bubbles"

R "Lots of bubbles"

me: "Are we washing your hair now or in 5 minutes?"

R "5 minutes"

me "am I using the yellow bucket or the orange bucket?"

and so on. When bathtime was over I say

"Are you letting the water out or am I"

notice how ending the bath is not a choice - I have not made that a choice.

Always offer choices that you are okay with. Other choices my son gets to make:

"Do you want to stay here with me and be sweet, or throw your tempter tantrum in your room?"

"Do you want to be carried up to bed, or walk up to bed?"

How is that to start?

I learned a BUNCH about disciplining from Love and Logic. I like them because their techniques are really easy and simple and have instant power! they give great examples! And they are "No spank!"

I got their "Parenting MAgic" book at the library, but you can buy books and audio files online too. Their website is

And my boyfriend, who doesn't have chidlren, bought one of their CDs and loved it and gave him a bunch of confidence when it came to disciplining my son.

Amy - posted on 04/29/2011




my son is 16mnths old and is a little terror but if we have company hes the nicest little boy. what we do is tell him no. sometimes a little slap on the hand if he is doing something real bad like pulling hair or pulling at the dogs hair, but the most important thing is to stay strong and consistant. try not to smile or laugh when she does something bad. when my son throws a toy or tries to stand in his palstic chair we give him a warning then if he does it again we take the item away and set it on the other side of the baby gate so he can still see it but cant get to it. after about 20mins we will give it back to him and if he starts to do it again we take it away for longer. it has really worked with us i have actually taken his chair away from him for a whole day and now he doesnt try standing in it anymore. and also everyone need to be disciplining her the same way. consistantcy is key with children. good luck


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[deleted account]

Sounds like she is needing some attention from you. Swatting is NOT OK. I don't know what you mean by "beyond nos and slaps on the hand." But a 15 month-old is not "beyond" anything.

How about spending a lot of quality time with her over the next few weeks, , and see how her behavior changes? I suggest you do it without the boyfriend.

Kristin - posted on 05/08/2011




When my son was that age I would sit him in his high chair where he could still see me and turn on a timer for 2mins intervals once he was calm I would talk to him about the behavior. We still do that to this day for undesired behaviors.

Vicki - posted on 05/08/2011




I would stay away from all 'slapping' or 'swatting' or hitting of any kind. All it's doing is teaching her that hitting is ok. At 15 months just remove her from situations, distract, redirect. Remove the toy or object that is causing the problem and move onto something else.

My boy runs away from me when I try to change his nappy, but lies down perfectly for my partner or my Mum. One of those things we have to put up with I think! Toddlers are most comfortable with their Mum and that's who they will test boundaries with the most.

Heather - posted on 05/08/2011




By the way, DON'T let your boyfriend discipline your daughter, especially slapping her hands.

Heather - posted on 05/08/2011




Umm...she is 15 months old, that's why she doesn't "listen" to you, lol. Don't slap her hand, a small swat on the bottom should do it, just one is all it takes and a firm tone of voice to let her know that what she is doing is not ok.

Try distracting your daughter. When she is getting into something that she shouldn't get into, move her somewhere else and give her a toy or something that she can play with!

[deleted account]

Dear Erin
I feel that she wants more of your attention so try to find more time to PLAY with her THEY LOVE IT WHEN WE DO IT!! I was so busy lately and thinking about alots of stuff all the time my little one start getting upset then angry at times and then it hits me i just join in her game, dance with her and she loves it she gave me big hug and told me how much she loves me!!! So sweet Anastasia is 2 and 4 month

[deleted account]

Oh I wanted to add that I do something similar with toys as Amy. I have a high shelf and when a toy is thrown, or treated in a disrespectful manner (used to hit other objects, stepped on, whatever) it goes on a "time out" on this high shelf. When my son was younger, like your daughter, it would come back after an appropriate amount of time. Now that my son is older he has to earn it back. He has to do something for mommy, like sweep the floor, change the sheets on his bed, wash the windows. Trust me, I do more of the chore than he does, but it is practice and he is learning how to help around the house.

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