How to Discipline an 18-Month-Old

An 18-month-old falls into the toddler age group, so you can expect abundant energy and curiosity from your little one. His curiosity might get him into trouble on occasion, and he may misbehave if he becomes tired or bored. Since discipline is most effective when it is age-appropriate and easy for your child to understand, learn which methods of correction work for your toddler.

Give your toddler a firm “No” when you spot her doing something wrong. Follow this with a very brief explanation, such as “That could hurt you” or “It’s not time to play with that right now.” According to American Family Physician, at 18 months old your child may be just old enough to understand the reason for her punishment.

Redirect your child to another activity. His attention span is relatively short at this age, so redirection is an effective way to distract him.

Remove her from the situation entirely, if necessary. Time outs may be confusing for your child at this age, but Kids Health states that you can put her into a designated area for only a minute or two as a method of discipline. According to American Family Physician, an effective time out consists of you ignoring the child, which helps her to learn that her behavior did not gain her any attention.

Be consistent. You may need to repeat something several times before your toddler understands which behaviors are not acceptable. Babycenter suggests that you make sure the same things are off limits and against the rules every day. Talk with your toddler’s other caregivers to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Praise your toddler for his acceptable behavior regularly throughout the day. Positive reinforcement of the behaviors you want will help him feel motivated to repeat this behavior, as well as helping him learn that he does not need to act out in order to get your attention.


Keep your toddler from situations that could easily get her in trouble. Put items that she is not supposed to touch out of reach to cut down on necessary discipline.


Avoid spanking your child. Kids Health states that this method of discipline is not necessary or effective with toddlers.

Do not discipline your child for doing things that are an accident or part of his normal development, such as wetting the bed.