Valorie Burton: All parents will find out that children test boundaries even from a very early age. You may feel the early years are for exploring and the time for discipline comes later, but that can be a mistake. The toddler in preschool years are ideal for those first consistent lessons in how to obey mom and dad or not. The first 18-36 months of a child's life is a critical time for growing physically and mentally, and that include starting to learn what's right or wrong.
Many studies have shown that how children behaved and were disciplined at an early age, has a huge impact on how they behave when they are older. When you are firm with the boundaries and tell your child what you're expecting from them, they will rise to that occasion. As long as there's also plenty of love and positive reinforcement, it gives them security.
When a child misbehaves go over to them. Get down at their eye level and tell them what you expect from them, rather than yelling from across the room. Exhausted parents of young children are often tempted to skip the extra effort that comes with consistent discipline, but the payoff will come later as your kids learn that mom and dad mean business. Your goal should be to instill a healthy respect for parental authority now. They may not show it outwardly, but toddlers and preschoolers thrive on this type of structure. And if consistent firmness is balanced with unconditional love, even the teen years won't be so bumpy.