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How to Discipline a Toddler

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With the help of a host of Facebook moms with in-the-trenches expertise, we share our best tips for toddler taming.

1. No More Meltdowns in Aisle 3

When her son, Nicholas, was 2, Katy Allen of Grayson, GA, had to rotate her grocery shopping between three different stores—to give management enough time to forget the havoc her son had wreaked the last time he strolled their aisles. “You name it, Nick did it,” says Allen, a preschool teacher. “He told the nice seventy-year-old man that the sample he was handing out smelled like dog food, ate a cat treat off the floor, broke a dozen eggs while ‘just helping,’ and spilled a big bag of sugar.” For sure, it ain't pretty. There's the endless bathroom breaks, the “gimmes” in the cereal aisle, the tantrums at checkout. To make shopping trips with your toddler easier:

Get the timing right “About an hour after his nap is perfect. A sleepy kid—or one who's energetic right after a nap—always spells disaster.”

Talk a blue streak “We make it fun and ask our 2 1/2-year-old what he sees. We name the numbers on the aisles and the colors and shapes of the balloons in the store.”

Provide healthy distraction “I give my son an apple the minute we get to the store. He nibbles on that throughout the trip. It's healthy, and I don't feel bad about it.”

Make a special list “I print him his own list with pictures of things we need. He spends the whole time looking for the items and checking them off with his crayon.”

Play grocery games “Sometimes we play catch with the toilet paper or paper towels that we're buying. We drum on the canned goods.”

Hold out hope of a reward “Let them pick out a small snack and carry it throughout the store, knowing they can buy it only if they are good the whole time.”