What Parents Can Do
I remember trips to the supermarket before I was a parent. In the produce aisle, someone else's toddler would throw a tantrum and I would shake my head knowingly and think, "Why doesn't that parent have their child under better control?" Now (in the check-out line of my toddler parenting career) I shake my head knowingly and think, "That poor parent—I know what they are going through!"
Understanding the time-out concept and using it effectively can begin any time after this age; this is the time I like to talk parents through it. Although time-outs may not be consistently effective for all 17 month olds, introducing the concept now gives you a tool that you can use both home and away for years to come. And unlike yelling and hitting, effective time-outs set a good, calm example and don't negatively reinforce the targeted behavior. (Click here for simple steps on introducing time-outs.)
What the Docs May Do
Your doctor might help you fine-tune your discipline techniques. I often find that having a sounding board (my kids' pediatrician, mainly) when parenting feels complicated, helps my wife and I re-center and get back on track. At times, parenting gets complicated and we all need some constructive feedback or "advanced" techniques.
Also, it is easy to concentrate all efforts on bad behavior, but the most powerful parenting tool is a positive remark when your child is being especially good. Catching your toddler doing something good is something all of us think we do well, but none of us are doing nearly enough. And as I and most other docs will tell you, never use corporal punishment. Hitting your child is often ineffective and sets an out-of-control, physical, bad example.
More 17th Month Help
Even the most confident parent has concerns about her child's health and wellness from time to time. (If you have any pressing concerns or questions about your baby's health, please check with her healthcare provider.)