My son is two years old and throws things when frustrated. My second baby is due in less than a month, and I'm worried that my son is going to hurt the baby. How can I keep him from hurting the baby while practicing gentle discipline?

First of all, this kind of behavior is absolutely normal for two-year-old children. Two year olds have little to no ability to handle frustrations. They lack the verbal ability to articulate their feelings, and their little brains are still developing the ability to cope with frustrations. Babies and young children gradually learn to regulate their emotions after the age of three, but, until then, parents have to help them.

In this type of situation, the best defense is a good offense. In other words, you will need to anticipate situations for your son before he becomes frustrated. You can model empathy for him by acknowledging his feelings, stating that you know he is feeling mad or angry, and giving him the words to express his frustrations: "You don't like it when someone takes your toy from you!" or "I can see you feel mad when Mommy doesn't look at you." Try to anticipate and avoid stressful situations for him, and make sure he eats when he is hungry. Toddlers need to eat several times a day; hunger just adds to their frustration. Remember that toddlers are usually easy to distract, so see if he can be interested in something else by enthusiastically redirecting his attention.

When a new baby arrives, it is an excellent opportunity for other caregivers to strengthen their relationship with an older child. Together, explore ways in which they can spend time with your child, either at home or on an adventure away from home. Armed with ideas and strategies, relax and enjoy your new baby.

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