How to Discipline a Toddler

Navigating Temper Tantrum City with Two Kids Under Four

As a mom with two boys I had read all of the books on parenting, I had an unlimited tool box of knowledge, and I did not believe in spanking. I believed by using reason and patience that my children would understand the meaning of the word no.

The problem, I discovered, is how do you reason with a three and four-year-old?

It was the calm before the storm as I bundled up the little one heading to Wal-Mart for our weekly grocery run. Our early morning trip quickly turned from a happy shopping trip to temper tantrum city in the blink of an eye. It was at that moment I did what any other reasonable mother would do. I left the store with one child under my arm, kicking, and another contained in his stroller wailing at the top of his lungs.

I attempted to maintain calm. People gave me the look, and all I wanted to do was crawl under a rock. We got in the car. I felt like sobbing, how was I to reason with two children under the age of four.

As we drove passed a decrepit old building, my eureka moment struck, “Do you see that place?” Both looked at the scary heap and replied, ‘Yes!” “That’s where the monkey man lives. And in the middle of the night he comes, taking any child who isn’t sleeping or doesn’t listen to their parents, and turns them into Monkey Boys.”

My four-year-old eyes widened, “He won’t take me. Will he?”

“I hope not! The worse part about being kidnapped by the monkey man is once you become a monkey boy you will never be able to go to McDonald’s ever again! Because there are no pets allowed!”

His eyes grew wider, “No pets allowed! I don’t want to be a pet! He won’t take me will he?”

“He only takes bad boys. The ones who don’t listen, and throw temper tantrums.”

“Mom, I’ll be good. I don’t want to be a monkey boy!”

And with that, the Monkey Man was the invisible disciplinarian in our lives. The monkey man was the two words you could always rely on when the going got tough.

You can judge me, but the fear of the monkey man was enough to keep my guys in line.

Darcie Cameron is usually spilling coffee on her shirt, saying the wrong thing, and forgetting where she put her keys. She blames it all on too much blogging and not enough caffeine. You can always stop by and say hi at