Little Terrors: How Young is Too Young to Discipline?

How young is too young to discipline?How young is too young to discipline?In the words of the wise and raspy Bob Dylan, now that my baby is becoming a toddler, the times, they are a changin'. I will be the first to admit that I've been blessed with a pretty easygoing, happy child. She's always smiling, doesn't cry much, and is incredibly self-entertained. She is totally adaptable to new situations and has never experienced a second of stranger anxiety in her life. A friend of mine recently shared The Happiest Baby On the Block Personality chart, and Fern fell soundly into the "Easy Child" category (other categories were shy and "spirited" -- we all know what that means).

That being said, with all this new coming into her own and becoming her own person with her own likes and interests, a few behavioral issues have been tossed into the mix. It's obviously small potatoes compared to what some parents with more challenging children are dealing with, but in the last couple of weeks there have definitely been a few tamper tantrums. The photo you see to your left was taken during a fit of epic proportions (she was screaming completely prostrate on the floor, super-dramatic style), when I tried to set aside her beloved Ugly Doll so she could eat dinner. Sure, I could've let her have it with her while we ate, but I have a no-toy-at-the-table policy, and I'm also not into giving in to demands during crying fits. Just not gonna happen.

Related: 7 hilarious but true ALL things moms cry over

But, now the question is: What do I do? I know what I don't want to do. I don't want to be a pushover, and give in to child demands and create a monster child down the road. Believe me, as a former preschool teacher, I've had my share of "challenging" children, and the root of these issues are usually parents who don't set boundaries and expectations for their kids. I know that children need proper discipline to learn and grow. The problem with this is I still see my child as more of a baby than a toddler. She just seems too young to discipline, and it doesn't seem like she really "gets it" yet. At 13 months (today actually), she barely has any words yet -- lots of babbling, but not many words -- so that definitely contributes to the "baby" vibe. But I know I need to start sometime, if only for her own safety.

I know how to use positive discipline with slightly older children who have some language skills, but I feel totally inept when it comes to this in-between age. I can't really reason with her yet (though I do still try to explain things to her anyway while I redirect her), and I'm not into corporal punishment (though I have given her a little smack -- more like a tap -- on the hand a couple of times when she's kept going back to unsafe things, i.e. reaching behind the TV to pull at the cords -- something I can't completely childproof).

I'm quickly realizing I need a plan and a strategy. So, I'm approaching YOU, dear readers. Please share your mama wisdom with me. Are there any books or websites you recommend for toddler discipline (don't tell me about "Love and Logic" -- I've had negative experiences with it)? And I'm also curious to know how young is too young to start disciplining, in your opinion?

Any and all suggestions will be so appreciated! I'm feeling so ill-equipped right now. Thank you in advance!

- By Lauren Hartmann
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