Dumping Toddlers

Today is just one of those days!

My son, Brady is pushing 17 months old and I feel like the terrible two's are phasing in. I have to tell ya, I'm a little at a loss for disciplining this little one man wrecking crew! I find myself constantly asking "Is this normal?"
He's in this new phase I like to call "Toddler Dumping." Brady has an obsession with emptying everything he can get his hands on. When he wakes up in the morning, he throws everything out of his crib and laughs. Every meal that's put in front of him almost immediately ends up on the floor or the tray of his highchair. If he can reach his mess, he smears it and begins finger painting if it's liquid based, or stomps on it if it's crunchy. He has an obsession with dumping things in the toilet too. We've already had to replace one of them!
Childproofing? What's that? Brady knew how to get through those latches before I could! Every kitchen cabinet, bathroom cabinet and drawer gets emptied multiple times daily. Obviously, I could use some help in effective childproofing, but what about appropriate discipline for toddlers?
Here's a list of disciplining tactics for toddlers I found while researching how to handle this new phase:
  1. Just Say NO - I've tried telling him "NO" when he's doing something he's not supposed to by getting on his level, using a serious voice (without yelling) and looking him in the eye. Brady's response: he giggles. Go figure! We'll keep trying though. He's bound to get it eventually
  2. Redirect - I find myself constantly trying to engage him in doing something else like reading a book or playing with his toys instead of really focusing so much on the "NO." This works for a few minutes, but ultimately, curiosity wins and he's back to dumping whatever he can find in the cabinets and drawers. 
  3. Positive Reinforcement - Hearing "NO" over and over isn't going to be effective alone. I'm trying to get him to understand the difference in the attention he's getting when he does something well or desirable verses when he does something he's not supposed to be doing. 
  4. Time-Out - Given that Brady is only 17 months old, we haven't really tried the time-out bit. Experts recommend that the toddler be at least two to three years old for them to grasp the concept of what is and why they're in it. Many say that time-outs should be set at one minute per year of age.
I know that this is a learning process, especially since this is my first toddler rodeo, but some days I just wish there was some sort of magic solution out there to make it easier. 
Surely, I'm not alone in feeling this way (I hope)! I would love to get feedback from other moms as far as what they've experienced and what has worked well for them. Is anyone else out there familiar with the "Toddler Dumping" phase? How did you deal with it?
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Filed under: Discipline, parenting, Toddlers

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  • I stay away from "no" as much as possible. Unfortunately, the next stage of "toddlerdome" is the "no" stage and the more they hear it from us, the more you will hear it from them.
    I found that rather than always trying to keep them out of the drawers they shouldn't be in, it was fun to have a drawer, cabinet, etc. that was full of "fun" stuff they could get into. They enjoy exploring and it's really how they learn. It has to be a bunch of things that aren't "theirs" though (old keys, tupperware, papers, old IDs, etc)
    Most parenting obstacles are most easily solved by "turning it around" and finding a way to take the control back.

  • Tiffanie, you're so right about the "no" part. Brady now "sings" "no, no, no" through out the day and cracks up. Oops!

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