1, 2, 3, Discipline Method For Toddlers



When it comes to discipline many parents get confused as to what it is they should be doing in the moment. Mostly because there are different ways to handle different situations and it can be hard to figure out which one applies to the situation that you have just found yourself fin.


A natural consequence, is a child led opportunity for them to learn a consequence to a certain behaviour, without parent intervention in a safe enviroment. Then there are strategies like the 1........ 2........ 3........


What is the 1, 2, 3 Method?


1 - 2 - 3 is a discipline technique where we are trying to STOP a behavior. It could also be a case where the child is not listening to direction and you want to give them a chance recorrect, rethink or think about their next step.

How to roll out the 1,2,3 method:


When you are in a situation where you are going to use this method, count slow, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi. This is a pause, an opportunity for the child to think about what they want the outcome to be. As I have talked about in a previous blog post, it should only be two choices.


Example - what not to ask “what do you want for lunch?”


Example - what to ask "Do you want macaroni and cheese, or a ham sandwich?"


If you give them too many choices, they’re completely overloaded and behaviour can become more erratic.



Example of using the 1, 2, 3 Method:


You are on a bike ride with your toddler, and you’re going to the park.


The child stops halfway there, gets off their bike, and starts whining, they don’t want to ride any more.


You as the parent, get off your bike and ask whats going on - they often dont know, so may come up with something random.


You would then want to present the 2 choices of the directions this could go in.


“You have 2 choices, I am going to count to 3 and then you can make a decision.” It’s very important that you as the parent, only give 2 choices. Don’t ask the child what they want to do, because they may come up with an answer that is completely unrealistic. Your goal was to get to the park!


Choice 1 “We either carry on going to the park or

Choice 2 "We can turn around and go home.


"I’m going to count to 3 and let you choose. Drop in the consequence for not making the decision in the time frame - If we get to three and you have not made a decision. Then I am going to make the decision for us, and then insert what it will be"


Then as the parent it’s really important that you follow through. This is how children learn to build trust. You need to be someone else who follows through on what they say, so that your child trusts your words and your actions and the two things go together.


If this whole scenario has played out and your child on three has not made their decision, and you decide as the parent that it is time to turn around and go home. You do not need to feel bad about that. This is still a learning experience for your child.

Dawn Whittaker is a a Mum of 3, and former nanny - Need help with your toddler? Book a quick fix, a chat through zoom with some email support to get you through the tough times.




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