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Is Punishment Necessary to Discipline a Misbehaving Toddler? Experts Weigh In On The Subject

“Discipline is necessary. Punishment is not,” according to one expert.

Parenting is indeed not for the faint of heart. Go ask any parent about it and they’ll easily tell you that.

Disciplining toddlers, for example, can require a great deal of effort – and you wouldn’t even be sure if you’re actually doing it right. Instilling good behavior is a constant challenge. It takes time and patience for both the parent and the child.

So is it okay to punish toddlers for misbehavior? Should they be spanked and yelled at? While parents may have different opinions about the topic but some experts agree on this thing – punishment is not the same as discipline.

Toddlers are too young to understand the concept of punishment, according to experts.

Research psychologist and book author Peggy Drexler, Ph. D, put it this way:

“Discipline is necessary. Punishment is not.”

Besides, toddlers, who are children between ages 12 to 36 months, still have no clear idea of right and wrong and so putting punishment in the picture could likely add to the confusion.

Generally speaking, “some understanding and a frank parent-child discussion” should do the trick, suggested Dr. Drexler.

When parents choose to sit down and talk, toddlers are more open to listening and they “better understand what happened.”

Physical punishment often sends the wrong message.

When a toddler hurts a sibling or a playmate, hitting as a form of punishment is not a good way to correct the misbehavior, pointed out experts.


Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician, taught that spanking definitely isn’t the way to go for younger children, particularly because “you are trying to teach her that hitting is wrong.”

Of course, setting clear boundaries should be done to ensure order in the home. Parents should be loving yet firm in implementing rules and reasonable consequences as children grow up so they can behave better.

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