Consider an appropriate punishment for your toddler's behavior.

What Punishments Are Good for a Two-Year-Old?

by Heather Topham Wood

Two-year-olds will make many missteps as they learn the ways of the world. Although you can discipline a child at this age, punishments should not be overly harsh. Children are still learning right from wrong and typically the best way to get toddlers to stop poor behaviors is to try distraction techniques. To prevent major tantrums that require punishment, ensure that your child has all of his needs met. Being tired, hungry or uncomfortable can provoke a meltdown.

Being Firm

What doesn’t work as a punishment for a toddler? A long lecture on the many reasons her behavior is not acceptable. A 2-year-old has a short attention span. To discipline at this age, keep phrases short and to the point. A firm “no” can go a long way in stopping a certain behavior. Give a simple explanation after the “no.” For instance, you could explain that she should not hit because it hurts her friends.

Make Consequences Natural

Make the punishment fit the crime. For instance, if the 2-year-old is throwing a toy across the room, he should not be permitted to play with the toy. Remember to stay consistent when administering this type of punishment. If you discipline your child for throwing food, ensure that you punish him again if he does it again.


Your 2-year-old should understand the concept of time-outs in order for you to effectively use that method of punishment. If you simply separate her without having an understanding of the reason behind it, the punishment will lose its effectiveness. If you do decide to use a time-out, set up a separate area that is not in her room or crib. You don’t want the child to associate her bedroom with punishment. Keep time-outs to two minutes or less for this age group. You can even choose to sit beside her as she quietly spends time in her time-out spot.


Certain punishments are not appropriate for a 2-year-old. According to Kids Health, toddlers will only feel pain from being hit. They won’t logically connect the punishment with the crime. Screaming at the toddler is likely to escalate matters and worsen the child’s behavior. Remain calm when handing out punishment in order for the form of discipline to be the most effective.

About the Author

Heather Topham Wood is a seasoned writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, Gadgetell, Feel Rich and Step in Style. Heather is a published novelist with six Amazon bestsellers and a contract through Crescent Moon Press. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from TCNJ.

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