Don’t you just miss the days when your baby stayed still on a blanket, playing with their stuffed toys? Now they're venturing into more dangerous territory and displaying baby behavior problems. So where do these behavioral issues come from?
When they reach this age, babies are attempting to make sense of their world by exploring and experimenting. They’re curious to see what happens when they do certain things, like drop food from the high chair. This exploration helps them learn principles like cause and effect.
So, rather than getting angry at your baby, take joy in the fact that this behavior is a sign of healthy cognitive development!
Of course, development isn't a free pass for bad behavior. Should you consider disciplining your baby if he or she doesn’t take no for an answer? Absolutely. “Baby discipline” doesn’t have to have a negative connotation — it's more about teaching than about punishment.
Teaching your baby the difference between right and wrong behavior from an early age is a crucial part of his or her evolution as a human being. And while you may feel like every time you say “no” or “don’t touch that” it goes in one ear and out the other, your baby behavior issues are actually improving.
Helping your baby take the first steps towards understanding what’s okay and what’s isn't can make all the difference later in life. You’ll help them become a good citizen that follows a moral compass and controls their impulses.
Here are some tips for how to discipline a baby:
Make them feel loved
The cornerstone of baby discipline is love. Unconditional love is that unbreakable bond that exists between a parent and a child. Whether your baby is behaving like a charming angel or an enraged monster, the love is still there in endless quantities. At the end of the day, it’s love that motivates them to become more disciplined and please you.
Repetition is the mother of learning
Baby discipline is a long and repetitive process, as babies have limited attention spans and memory capacity. If you told your baby once that he or she shouldn’t bang the toy on the ground, be prepared to say it 150 more times. It’s important to stay calm, patient, and persistent.
Understand that every child is different
Surprise! There is no one baby discipline approach that applies to everyone. Every child and every family is different. When you try to resolve your baby behavior issues, you'll want to take into consideration your character, your baby’s temperament, the circumstances, and what rules apply in your family.
Be consistent with your limits
If banging the toy is unacceptable behavior on Monday, it should also be unacceptable on Wednesday. Failing to enforce the rules consistently won’t get you anywhere with your baby discipline efforts and will only confuse your little one.
Avoid saying “no” too often
Too much negative language can negatively affect your baby and aggravate the behavior issues. You should learn how to talk to your child without saying “no” too often. Parenting without negative language — words like “no,” ” don’t,” and “stop” — is an important part of your baby discipline efforts. What you should strive to achieve is rewiring your baby’s brain for positivity. So, instead of saying “don’t touch that vase,” say “let’s take a look at the vase together.”
Draw the line
Although your baby might fight back and test your limits regularly, he or she needs these limits. Limits make babies feel secure, grounded, and loved. So, don’t hesitate to draw the line when little Jamie is banging his toy on the floor or trying to spill your coffee. Moreover, keep in mind that the limits you set need to be age appropriate.
Control your temper
It's natural to lose your temper once in a while. You’re only human, after all! However, don’t forget that you’re also the parent of a young child who needs a role model. When your baby does something wrong, take a few seconds to cool down before you respond. Try to explain, calmly, what was it that they did wrong. If you happen to lose your temper and yell at your child, be sure to apologize for it. Say: "I’m sorry for yelling at you, but I was outraged. And people sometimes get angry at people they love”.
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Being a parent is a challenging task. One day your child is carelessly sleeping in his or her bed, and the next day he or she is grabbing a pen from your purse or popping a penny into his or her mouth. You feel like your anger is building up and you’re about to snap. Suddenly, you get that impulse to spank your child. But is spanking an effective method for resolving baby behavior issues?
While punishment will get your child’s attention, it’s not an effective strategy to teach them right from wrong. Research shows that punishment has several negative effects, including:
- Making a child feel like they’re not a good person
- Fostering dishonesty
- Creating a disconnect between you and your child
- Making a child feel wrong
- Making your child care only for themselves and blame others
- Hurting your child physically
- Shaking your baby or child's sense of security
Children who are spanked are also more likely to get physical with their peers. So, let's take a look at some more appropriate baby discipline methods to spanking:
Introduce discipline instead of punishment
Instead of punishing your baby, try introducing discipline. For example, if they make a mess out of your drawer, have them help you put everything back together. If they’re banging their toy on the ground, take away the toy for now.
Apply the diversion method
Another smart strategy for disciplining babies is the diversion method. If your baby is trying to bite your arm, divert their attention by giving them their most-loved giraffe toy to play with. Or, if they’re trying to pull your cat’s tail, draw their attention to a stuffed animal or cute cartoon.
Use your serious voice
Every now and then, you can use your serious voice to put a stop to your baby’s behavior issues. Bring down your friendly and happy tone an octave or two to get your baby’s attention. Let them know that you’re the adult in the room and they need to follow your rules.
Praise good behavior
Lastly, don’t forget to praise your baby's good behavior. Every time they’re playing calmly with their toys, tell them how they’re being a good baby. Or when they turn the pages in a book gently, comment on this achievement.
At the end of the day, what matters is that your baby is constantly experimenting and learning new things about the world around them. Baby behavior is a completely normal and healthy phase of their development and evolution as a human being. So, the next time your child drops a spoonful of cereal on the floor, try the baby discipline methods mentioned above. And don’t forget to tell them every day how much you love them!
If you feel like you can’t control your anger and are scared of hurting your baby, talk to your child’s doctor or a therapist. It’s better to ask for professional help as soon as you realize you need it. Call for help today!