Within the first few months of your baby’s arrival in this world, she is one cute bundle of joy. But time passes without you realising it and soon, she starts showing tendencies of rebelling, demanding or throwing tantrums.
For a parent, this is just another one of the many challenges of bringing up a child responsibly. But not too worry. Things will go more smoothly if you start disciplining your little one while she is still a baby. Yes, that’s right.
According to parents.com, babies can start understanding the concept from the age of 12 months. At this time, your child’s communication skills are growing so you can begin by teaching her simple rules, like “don’t pull on the cat’s tail”.
You can also start implementing the term “no”, but do so in serious situations. If you say it too often, the word might lose its meaning to your child.
However, bear in mind that not all babies suit the same disciplining techniques. You have to understand your child’s behaviour before choosing the best and correct way to discipline her, so that it can be done with love.
Ready to start learning? Here are some useful tips.
1. There’s no such thing as a bad baby
Your child is cognitively too young to have bad intentions, so you’d wonder why she’s behaving badly.
Well, apparently they won’t be “if adults understand them and are able to meet their needs”, says early child education expert Patricia Koh.
“Parents who are impatient and unreasonable with their children tend to attract ‘bad behaviour’. Your child may have also misunderstood your expectations, and therefore not behaved correctly.” Huh, who knew?
2. Don’t forget that your child is still young
Like what we’ve learned earlier, it’s perfectly okay to discipline your baby, but at the same time you have to remember her age.
After all, if she’s only two, it’s unlikely that she could go through a movie night at the cinema without staying still. Children are like adults, too. They act up when they are tired, hungry or bored.
3. Don’t call your child naughty
It just doesn’t encourage good behaviour mentally. “When used too casually and frequently, your child may think that you are labelling her character instead of the misbehaviour,” says parenting specialist Sarah Chua.
Besides, young children don’t even fully understand what any negative label means, says Patricia.
So if you find yourself wanting to admonish your child, experts advise to explain to her her wrongdoings and be specific.
For example: “You are screaming. It is too noisy. Can you tell me what you want in a nice voice?”
4. The younger she is, the more rules she needs
Of course, wanting the best for your child, you tend to meet her demands but she will eventually learn to take an advantage from this to get whatever she wants.
If you want to set a good example in behaviour, you will need to do it during your child’s early years. The earlier, the better. If bad behaviour patterns are fixed, you may face difficulties in changing them.
You should be the one determining her nap and bath time, but also let her make some choices (Pink shirt or yellow dress? Play with blocks or puzzles?)
This way, eventually your child will be able to think for herself and based on the disciplinary rules set earlier in her formative years, she should know which good decisions to make.
5. Apply the law of cause and effect
One technique the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends is showing tough love and let your child handle the consequences of her own misbehaviour. Meaning, if she does something wrong, try not to come to her rescue.
Sarah gives an example: if your child throws food onto the floor even though you’ve reminded her not to, clean it up calmly and don’t offer any more until the next meal.
“This is a better consequence than threatening to take away privileges – for example, ‘No TV unless you eat!’ – or forcing your toddler to eat. It lets her learn the value of food and the consequence of wastage,” says Sarah.
6. Use the tried-and-tested timeout method
Another technique recommended by the AAP is “timeout”, which works best on kids from the age of two who has broken a specific rule.
Place your child in a corner or on a chair, where it’s not distracting, and allow her to sit for a bit and help her understand her wrongdoing.
The trick is to set a minute of timeout for every year of age: for example, a two-year-old gets two minutes, while a three-year-old gets three.
7. Redirect your child’s angst
The timeout technique may not work on infants. Alternatively, when your child is about to undergo a meltdown, try distracting her with something else, Sarah suggests.
Since they have a short attention span, children will quickly forget what they wanted initially. Patricia suggests using fun ways to turn your child’s frown upside down.
For example, if she keeps on whining and expecting to be carried all the time, try turning your walk into a race. It could be fun!
8. Don’t use physical violence
Asian parents tend to use the rotan to discipline their children. Well according to the AAP, this type of punishment can leave lasting psychological marks on the young.
Research proved that those who are spanked will more likely become adults who are depressed and angry, and become engaged in crime and violence.
Patricia says, “How do you tell a child not to hit or use physical force, if you are doing it to him? Children model after adults, so this form of punishment doesn’t help.” True.
Instead, Sarah recommends parents to explore alternative methods first. If you feel that your child really needs to be punished with a rotan, remember to not go overboard.
9. Remember to show some love
While disciplining your child, sometimes you can accidentally lose your cool and it’s regretful. If you face any issues, take a breather and calm yourself before speaking to your child again, Sarah suggests.
In order to maintain your good relationship and show that you love her, remember to hug your child.
“Discipline is not about punishment or making your child behave the way you want her to behave. It is about guiding her to behave rightly and establishing age-appropriate boundaries,” says Sarah. “Most of all, it is about wanting the best for your child.”
10. The adults must agree on the rules
It’s normal for the mother to say no, but the father is more lenient and says maybe, while the grandparent on the other hand will straight away say yes.
If this goes on, your child will know who to go to if she wants things to go her way. Parenting is all about consistency.
In conclusion, discipline is a must for every baby’s healthy growth, but be mindful of their age.
Source: Young Parents