24 to 36 Months
The two-year mark ushers in twos' programs, preschool, and play dates, which are great for your child's socialization skills but also present a new set of discipline problems. Sharing -- toys, time, and attention -- is difficult at this age. What complicates matters further is that folks (and kids!) outside your family may end up in the path of a toy-snatching toddler who happens to belong to you.
Toddlers understand easy commands, empathy, and cause and effect, so you can now employ these concepts when you discipline. If your child grabs a crayon from his friend, for example, you can say, "We don't grab toys. Taking Billy's crayon hurts his feelings," and then give him a similar crayon to play with.
A key to disciplining toddlers and preschoolers is to keep things very simple. According to a study conducted by Susan G. O'Leary, PhD, professor of psychology at The State University of New York at Stony Brook, those moms with long reprimands were less effective than those with short and direct ones.
Susan Simmons of South Riding, Virginia, the mother of 2-1/2-year-old Mia, agrees. "When Mia hit 2, I started giving her long explanations as to why she couldn't do something, but I realized she didn't understand. Now when she wants to have an ice pop before dinner, I just say 'You can't have one now,' and leave it at that."