Here are some thoughts: At the early stages, it may seem pointless to think of disciplining a child, but it is at this age that a good foundation for discipline is laid for later. If we disagree with what a child is doing, it is always helpful to remember it is the deed we want to change, not the child. In the early years, bringing the child's focus away from the action and showing interest in a new activity is often enough for the child to stop. If the child persists, for example if they run out on the road, we can pick them up and tell them that we walk on the sidewalk, repeatedly, firmly, patiently, until they stop going out on the road. If they don't stop, we can remove them from the situation, for example, by carrying them, or going inside.

The more one is firm and consequent now, the easier it is likely to be later. Though it may seem easier to give in sometimes, and one sometimes does have to pick one's battles, in the long run it is worth the effort to be consequent. When we are clear with the child about what one can do, or not do, we not only make our own life easier by following through, but we also give the child a sense of security, even if they momentarily dislike the boundary being set or task ahead.

Being completely present in our interactions with the child can also be of immense help in discipline. When a child is misbehaving or over tired, they are often brought back to themselves and calmed by a few moments of our undivided attention. In dealing with an issue with our full presence, we give the child respect and we are better able to assess the situation and the child's needs.

By being emotionally neutral and gentle, we are more likely to focus on the behaviour rather than the child, and make the event less interesting for them: when we react emotionally, the child may become interested in this and is more likely to push boundaries again to evoke emotional reactions more frequently. It is an effective way to receive attention! So it seems the ideal is to be in a constant balancing act in being consequent and consistent, and being present but not emotionally reactive. Yes, a tall order. Yet it seems the more we do this when the child is at a young age, the easier it is to establish boundaries and to discipline later.

One thing used in Waldorf Kindergartens when a child hurts another child, is that attention is given to comfort the hurt child, without reprimanding the child who did the hitting. Their attention is brought to the suffering they have caused by the fact that the guardian's attention is there, and they are not granted attention because of their act. This approach, however, is usually more effective with children older than three. Also, sometimes simply gently saying or singing the child's name to let them know they are being seen can be enough for them to stop an undesired activity.

Also, a simple thing to consider when a child is fussing or doing things she knows usually not to do, is that she may simply be hungry or tired, have a wet diaper (nappy), or she may need some quiet time in a safe place, away from new impressions, or need to be in your arms to quietly look out the window or hear a song for a few minutes.

‘Before you say something, ask yourself these three questions: 

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Kim John Payne [1]

Another consideration is what effect our words and our speaking have on our child. At the outset, they have total trust in us. In this light, it may be wise to respect this trust by weighing our words and being aware of how frequently we speak to a child. When we talk at them incessantly they are not able to fully focus on their current task. It overloads them with unnecessary information, and after a while, can bring them to shut our voice out because of overstimulation. This often leads to parents having to either yell at their child or repeat something many times before they get their attention. It is much more effective to simply engage with the child when they engage with us, and interrupt their play or activities only if necessary. Then our words mean something to the child.

See Language and baby talk

Giving choices and reasoning

Simplicity Parenting in Recommended reading

LINK to Joyful Toddlers


Social Development in the Very Young Child - Susan Weber

Non-Verbal Education- A Necessity in Development Stages - Glöckler


[1] Payne, Kim John. Simplicity Parenting. Ballentine Books, New York 2009, Page  193

Woman with baby