When Does Discipline Begin?

Discipline at 12 to 18 Months

upset toddler

Linda Farwell

Age: 12 to 18 months

The Big Issues: Discovering Vocal Abilities Such as Screeching and Whining

If you thought your infant had a good set of lungs, just wait till he's a toddler. It may be cute when he shrieks at home, but it's not appropriate in church or at a crowded restaurant. To keep your sanity intact, remember that your child isn't trying to ruin your dinner; he's only testing his vocal cords. Resist the urge to yell -- or giggle, because sometimes it is funny when he screams in church. That will only egg him on. Instead, tell him in simple terms what you expect: "We talk in a quiet voice when we're in a restaurant." Bring quiet toys and books to occupy his attention. If he can't stop shrieking, take your order to go. "Children this age don't have the self-control to inhibit a behavior like this," Lerner says. "Just keep explaining the rules, and by age 2 1/2 to 3, he'll begin to understand them and be better able to act on them."

To put a stop to the whining of her 18-month-old son, Harrison, Hillary Landau, of Briarcliff Manor, New York, made a game of it: "I'd say 'What do you get when you whine? Zippo the hippo!' That broke the tension and made him smile, plus it made it clear that whining would get him zip!"

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