Disciplining A 1 Year Old? 4 Tips To Make It Easier

Dear Mama,

Disciplining a 1-year-old can be a little difficult and time-consuming because a child at that age is too young to understand the link between a cause and its effect. So, if you try to discipline him as you would do to a 6-year-old, it’ll have no effect on him.

Instead of saying “No,” give him an alternative, or distract him with some toys or music. Try teaching him what is right and wrong instead of punishing him. Notice and encourage when your child behaves in a good manner. Limit the boundaries of your house to where you seem are safe for your child to explore. Instill a structure, a routine that you stick to every day, and importantly don’t resort to spanking your kid as a punishment for his misbehavior.

Gone are those peaceful days when your infant would sit in a corner, or when your 9-month-old would play with his toys and mind his own business.

As soon as your child starts crawling and walking, his world has just transformed and has become this vast place which he wants to explore and discover any chance he gets.

Once he started walking and realizing that a world exists beyond the baby-proof safety gates in the house, my son would want to go everywhere in the house all the time. Trying to stop him from exploring would be to trying to curb his inquisitive trait. But, what happens when he wants to lick the fridge door or touch the bathmat, and every time I said ‘no,’ it would only encourage him to do the same thing.

Raising my voice or calling out his name to indicate to stop what he was going to do would only result in him giving me a cheeky smile and going ahead to do what he was already trying to do.

Your child will want to discover what is under the sofa, or what is inside the second drawer in the cabinet, or what happens if I try to touch this or lick this?

You can’t restrict your child from exploring or discovering because that’s the way children learn and grow, but what you do when they whine or throw a tantrum or try to seek your attention by shouting at the top of his lungs will set the example for the rest of his life.

Ways to discipline your 1-year-old

Ways to discipline your 1-year-old

There are multiple ways other than to punish your child for something he’s not aware of right now whether it’s right or wrong.

#1 – Encourage good behavior with positive reinforcement

What this means is, kids sometimes can do the right thing or the wrong thing. Still, as parents, you need to notice good behavior and encourage them to do more with positive reinforcements like, ‘I appreciate when you packed up all your toys,’ or ‘I’m so proud of you for sharing your toys with your friend.’

While teaching your child what he should do and what he shouldn’t, you should remember that it’s easy to focus only on the bad things your child does, but more than oftentimes, bad behavior is usually the result of the child trying to seek your attention. So, notice the good behavior too and encourage them.

#2 – Distract them and divert their attention

Children who are just 1 year of age can’t really understand why you’re punishing them or saying no for something they’re trying to do. So, giving them a time-out or taking away their privileges will have no effect on them.

Dad is talking to his upset toddler son to calm him down.

So, if want them to stop doing something, for e.g., stop them from trying to climb the chair, remove them from the situation, and hand them some toys or start reading a book to them. Babies at the age of 1 have a very short attention span and can be distracted very easily.

#3 – Limit your “No’s”

Your child’s curiosity with a mixture of his stubbornness will only increase your tendency to say ‘No’ repeatedly. But remember that if you keep saying ‘no’ multiple times in a day, it’s going to lose its meaning.

Your child isn’t going to relate with the word and wouldn’t even bother to stop what he’s doing even when you say ‘no.’ Don’t let the word ‘no’ be the default word every time your child misbehaves, and instead tell him what he should do.

Teach him what’s right instead of scolding him by shouting ‘NO,’ like if he pushes another toddler in the park, instead of saying ‘no’ to him, tell him ‘we shouldn’t push our friends’ and encourage him to play with the other kid, and share his toys.

#4 – Don’t spank your child

Some parents think that spanking or slapping on your child’s hand is alright because it teaches them that they shouldn’t be doing whatever they were doing. Also, so many of us have grown up by getting a little smack here and there, and we’ve turned out fine, right?

My brother and I growing up in an Indian household, have received our fair share of these “little swats” from our parents, which is a quite common phenomenon you’ll find in India, but what I’ve learned is, as your child grows, even those little swats don’t make them stop. Your aggression and those swats are only going to increase more.

Mom is frustrated at her naughty 1-year-old toddler girl, who is not listening and calming down.

Also, children learn from us, they learn to imitate us, and this milestone of imitation is not only meant for “look my kid talks like me on the phone,” or “look at the way he sits on the chair, just like his daddy,” they also learn that hitting someone is a way of letting out the exhaustion.

Another thing parents do, which I’ve found to be very bizarre is, if a child falls on the floor or hits his head on the door, parents or grandparents tend to pretend to hit the floor or the door for causing the child pain. What do you think the child learns in this scenario? That it’s okay to hit someone if they’ve caused you pain.

Why do you think we have so many adults living in a society with their emotions so messed up? So, please don’t teach your kid something you don’t want them to imitate in the future.

One thing my husband and I agreed on before having a kid was, we’ll never raise our hands on them. I’m pretty sure there are other ways around the phrase ‘spare the rod, spoil the child, and as parents, we need to respect our kids, talk to them in an understanding manner, and practice gentle parenting.


So, I won’t tell you how to raise your kids, but I’ll surely tell you that there are many ways you can discipline your kid instead of punishing, shouting, or hitting them. I practice gentle parenting where I believe that kids want to be heard and seen.

They don’t want you to buy them their favorite toys but also need your time and attention. Talk to your child as if you understand their frustration; tell them what the right thing they should be doing.

Offer them an alternative, an option so that they can choose what they want instead of demanding them what you want them to do, e.g., if your toddler isn’t ready to go to sleep, offer them an option like, ‘do you want to go to bed after taking a bath, or do you want to go to bed after mommy reads you a book?’ Whatever he chooses, the end result is- he’s going to bed.

So mama, take care of yourself and your family during these difficult times, and relax, and take it one day at a time.

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Located in India and a mother to a joyfully mischievous son, Kelin is the wife of the world’s most patient man and a busy homemaker. When she’s not busy cooking and running after her kid,  you can find her in a corner reading, or penning down words on her laptop. She believes the world will always try to instil ‘mom guilt’ in new mothers, but she goes by the maxim ‘a mother knows best'.

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