11 Simple Ways on How to Discipline a 2 year old

how to discipline a 2 year old

How to discipline a 2 year old is a question many parents face because of the terrible 2s (or the terrific 2s). Disciplining a child, irrespective of the age is not easy and it requires patience (lots of it) and a planned approach.

At this age, kids are discovering things around them and also their emotions, and expressing them does not come easily to them. We as adults, many times, cannot say what we feel so these are just kids.

If you are new to this phase, you will also have a tough time decoding the changed behavior of your little one. You should read the post, The Terrible Twos Are Actually Terrific to know more about this phase.

How to discipline a 2 year old is something you might not think when that little bundle of joy just sleeps, feeds and poops and you want them to grow up fast. Trust me, when they grow up they take up all your energy and patience levels and then you realize disciplining a toddler is not an easy task.

Many people argue that these kids are too young to discipline, but the fact is there is a need to start at that age. Some punishments like naughty corner do not work on 1 or 2 year old because they do not realize the concept of cause and effect. This age is the right time to start and this means to teach them about good and bad, and not punish them.

How to Discipline a 2 Year Old?

I have said, it is the right age to start disciplining a toddler, but the question is how to discipline a 2 year old. I am not an expert and my daughter, Little Miss A is not a perfectly disciplined child. But in the last 4 years, I have used various strategies at different points which have worked, so I will list them for you. These tips can be used for the first 4-5 years easily. Let us get started then:

Understand Them

Disciplining a toddler is tough work but it becomes less stressful when you learn to understand them. Each child is different and so are their reactions and reflexes.

They are discovering things and emotions and cannot express how they feel and the result is temper tantrums. Understand what they feel and help them communicate it to you. They feel reassured you are understanding though you still might not give in to their demands. 

When Miss A went from one group to the other in her playschool, she had massive tantrums daily. It was the transition and the lack of understanding of the emotional changes she was facing, which caused the same.

The key is to understand what they can be going through and then addressing the problems. This makes it easier for both you and the baby.


If you have the question, how to discipline a 2 year old or a toddler, the golden rule is to be consistent. This is one place I have gone wrong and would advise others to be careful. Kids do not forget easily so if one day you let them watch the phone when eating, it will get tough to get them to stop. So if you give in once or not give them something that they are used to, it causes tantrums.

Being consistent always is not possible, but try as much you can and help them when there is a change. Another very important thing to remember is that both the parents and other family members must be on the same page when it comes to disciplining a toddler.

Kids are smart and they easily catch on if one person is more lenient than the others and this causes a problem in teaching them the right behavior.

Stop Being Logical

Your logics and those of a toddler cannot be the same and are not the same so being logical with them does not help. Explaining things using a story helps many times, else just giving a logic never has worked in our case for sure. You have to try and explain to them things as they see without teaching them something.

I remember when Little Miss A had to start preschool, we made a song around the new phase she was entering and then made up stories. Similarly, when she was hesitant to share things, we made stories and got books which had the message.

She related more to the concepts and it was easier to teach her and discipline her.


This is my favorite trick when it comes to disciplining a toddler. When I used to wonder how to discipline a 2 year old, I read about this and it works. This approach is good when there is no safety hazard.

Usually, when I see Little Miss A getting upset, I divert her attention to something different. This also works many times when she is having a meltdown. Showing her something from the window or getting a toy or start a story saying you know what happened the other day, are some of the ways I use to distract her.

Do Not Ask Questions

Little Miss A most times ignores me if I ask her a question like, “Why did you write on the wall?” There is no answer and I always thought she does not listen to me and how will I discipline my 2 year old.

You need to connect with the child and state it like an observation. “Seems you are writing on the wall again. Where are the sheets of paper we bought that day?” This distracts her and sometimes she does remember not to do it again. (Sometimes only 😉 )

Most kids will not answer questions as they themselves might not know why they did what they did. Thus, making a statement and getting an answer in the conversation makes it easy for them to understand what they did is not right.


I am not telling you Miss A’s blood group but saying be positive as much as you can with the child. There was a time when I used to say ‘No’ a lot to Miss A and then I came across a post on how to discipline a 2 year old and it made sense that this was not going to help. The child starts ignoring you when you say it repeatedly. You have to say no with an explanation which involves something fun for them if possible. You can learn to say no without saying no.

Hug Them

When it comes to disciplining a toddler or a child, one of my most favorite strategy is to hug them. Hugs have a calming and soothing effect. When you hug your child, they feel you love them and understand them.

Also scientifically, it releases oxytocin which improves the mood. The child does not forget what they wanted, but they mostly settle down. Hugging has many benefits and you should read, the post, Hug your Kids When they Are being Horrible.

Set Example

Do what you expect your kids to do because they see you all day. Even when you think they are not, they observe every little thing you do. So set the right examples and do not expect them to do things that you will not.

We must not forget, for our kids, we are the role models. If we act when we are upset, they learn the same too. Try and do some deep breathing and then react. When the kids see the parents not reacting in an angry way, the chances of them throwing a tantrum reduce.

Appreciate and Encourage

When you want to know how to discipline a two year old, you must first remember that you have to encourage and appreciate them. Talk about their strengths and appreciate when they do something well

. This increases their self-esteem and makes them happy and they know, you are not always discouraging them. Read the post, Things to Keep in Mind When Communicating With Children, to know how positive conversations are important for kids and their growth.

Reverse Psychology

This trick I have learned from my father in law and it does have an effect on Miss A for sure. When disciplining a toddler, when you do not want them to do something, try saying the opposite. A child always loves to challenge you and your patience and just to irritate you (so they think), they will do the opposite and you will be the winner.

Be Funny

This is the last technique I am talking about if you want to know how to discipline a 2 year old, but it is very effective. When there is a tantrum, try and be funny like start tickling the baby or talk in a funny way or say something funny.

Like change a word in their song or call them by a wrong name or whatever works. The child will focus on correcting you or on laughing and will forget the issue. Later talking calmly helps in explaining things to them.


Relax and Take it Easy

Disciplining a toddler is no child’s play and can take too much effort with no success. Each child is different so if you ask me how to discipline a 2 year old, the same ways will not work for you. The above-mentioned strategies can be used for children between 1 and 4 and may be later. Disciplining is essential and has to be started at a small age. As Jim Rohn says.


“Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built. Lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure.”


  1. That’s a nice list and tips
    My kids have outgrown this age but I loved all your points as this is how we can connect with our small kids.
    Just be like them and shower them with love.

  2. 2-year old is a tricky age group. we need to be extra smart while handling them. that these kids are becoming smart than their age. We have to be diplomatic.

  3. Hey Arushi..I have been trying to get my 2-year-old grandson to say thank you and sorry but he bluntly refuses and says NO. Any way I can make him do that? He makes puppy faces at me and gets what he wants and if I don’t budge then throws a tantrum.

    • They take time to develop these habits but we have to consistently try. If he is allowed to watch Youtube there are a couple of good videos on use of magic words. We must always say thank you and please and sorry to them when we can so that they become a part of their vocab. When my daughter does not say please, we often say, did we hear the magic word and she adds. Telling them stories also helps. Sometimes kids know what to say but wont at home but do it with others. So we need to keep trying and hopefully we will succeed 🙂

  4. Awesome tips Arushi! I wish I had these when my son was in this age-group. Nevertheless, never too late to follow some of these. and pass on the wisdom to the other new parents 🙂

  5. Among the techniques you have mentioned distractions and stories seem to be ideal. It is important not to change things like allowing them to use something once and refuse the second time. And as you say discipline should be instilled in children from a very early age.

  6. Arushi, this is a very important post. Every topic is very important. Liked every bit of it. Specially, the concept of reverse psychology. It’s great. And I really wonder how beautifully you research and describe everything. Just loved it. Hats off.

  7. Arushi, this is a very important post. Every topic is very important. Liked every bit of it. Specially, the concept of reverse psychology. It’s great. And I really wonder how beautifully you research and describe everything. Just loved it. Hats off. . Kudos.

  8. Awesome suggestions Arushi and I had used most of them with my girls when they were in this age. hugs, appreciation and encouragement are works like wonder for little kids and they learnt a lot with this way.

  9. Though I feel it’s different fir every child but i agree with many points mentioned here especially hugging them and distracting them. I’m glad that phase is over and we sailed through 🤗

    • Haha glad the phase is over but I am sure each phase comes with its own challenges. You are right each kid is different and a parent knows the best on how to handle. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. Awesome Arushi you have shared many ways to make toddlers disciplined which is the biggest challenge for any parents, in my case as my mom says and in my kiddos’ case as I am experiencing “Reverse Psychology” works most of the time.haha!


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