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Formerly the Welcome Baby Newsletter
These days you're probably putting lots of energy into setting boundaries and saying "no!" to a very mobile and curious almost 1-year old. This feature article looks at how to set limits in ways that help your baby learn discipline without compromising independence and learning.
How Babies Learn Limits: Laying the Foundations for Discipline
Your baby has just reached for your steaming cup of coffee, even though you’ve warned her that it’s “hot!” This isn’t willful disobedience; it’s part of her inborn drive to learn through hands-on exploration. She’s trying to learn through trial and error, the cornerstone of scientific inquiry. The challenge for you is to keep your young scientist safe and yourself sane.
Doing this means setting limits – the foundation of discipline. The word “discipline” comes from the Latin meaning “to each.” Rather than punishment, discipline is a lengthy process of teaching children about limits. The goal, as children mature, is to help them learn self-control: You want your child to behave even if you aren’t there watching.
Tips for your 1-year-old
Limits help children feel secure and loved
While the rules at your house may differ from those at a friend’s or Grandma’s, be clear and consistent about what you allow (or don’t allow).
Combine words and action
If he’s off-limits, scoop your child up, saying, “No throwing books,” and move him to a substitute activity: “You can throw the ball.”
If your baby is biting or pinching
Resist the temptation to pinch or bite back. The message it sends is that these painful behaviors are allowed when performed by someone bigger and stronger. The same is true of spanking. Instead, say, “Biting (or pinching) hurts! Hurting is not allowed.” Move your child to another activity. Sometimes biting is the result of teething discomfort; try offering something soothing for baby’s gums.
Keep your cool
Though all parents lose their tempers once in a while, try to give yourself a time out when you feel this happening. If you yell in anger, apologize later. Give your child a reassuring hug and explain simply, “I’m sorry I yelled. I was very angry.” If you feel you can’t control your anger, let someone know, either your partner, a friend, even your health care provider.
Catch your child being good
He wants your attention, and if he gets it for positive behavior, you’ll see more of it. Describe what he’s doing when he’s being cooperative: “Look at how you’ve put all the blocks away.”
Divert a bad mood
Impersonate Big Bird or Cookie Monster, make a silly face or sing a funny song. Don’t worry that this is spoiling your child. It’s not, and if it works, you’ll both feel better.
Try not to laugh at your child’s anger or misbehavior, no matter how tempted you are
Save your response for later, when you can share it with another adult. Children recognize when they’ve charmed you into letting them ignore some limit, and they’re justifiably upset if you don’t take their feelings seriously.
Remember that your child isn’t bade, but has a limited memory at this point in life. It will be a long time before you can expect him to remember and obey rules.
Tips for Preventing Misbehavior
Tighten up routines
During times of systems overload, following the same old routines – in the morning and getting dressed to leave the house, at meals and at bedtime – will help your child feel safe and secure.
Drain motor drive
Lots of physical activities will regulate mood and leave less energy for tantrums. Rather than sit-down meals, offer nutritious snacks.
Just saying “no” to a toddler isn’t enough; you’ll have to use your body to get her attention. If your child’s playing near the stove, scoop her up, saying, “No, that’s dangerous.” Then find a distraction immediately: “Look, there’s a robin in the kitchen window.” Without a good distraction, most likely your toddler will be right back next to the stove.
Distraction is okay
At this age, your child can’t control his impulses. By not allowing the forbidden behavior, you’re giving your toddler the message she needs. A two-minute visit to the front steps, or a mid-day bath for water play, can change a bad mood into a better one.
Use humor and fantasy
If your toddler doesn’t want to stop playing to take a bath, tell her, “I’m the train and you’re the caboose,” and chug into the bathroom together.
State her feelings for her
“You’re so sad to leave the park. Pick one last thing to play on, then we’ll say goodbye.” The key is that she must stay close by and follow through.
Offer focused attention
Some people call this sports casting: You watch your child and tell her what you see. “I see Katie climb that step. Oh, she’s got one foot up on the stair. Now the other. Watch out, here she comes, climbing up the steps.” This may feel awkward at first, but children love to know you really see what they’re doing. Giving focused attention also tells your child, “Who you are right now, at this moment, is fine with me.” It’s a great self-esteem builder and just a few minutes a day makes a difference.
If a toy or other object is the source of frustration, you can time it out. “Let’s put this old puzzle in time-out for a few minutes.” Out of sight will be out of mind.
Hugs and kisses
Remember, each day your toddler is developing new skills and maturity, and soon enough, will reach a smoother, more manageable age. In the meantime, try to offset the rough spots with hugs, kisses, laughter and a quick game of chase.
Reprinted with permission from Welcome Words, a publication of the Welcome Baby Program of the Durham County, NC, Cooperative Extension.
Can you believe that your baby is a year old?? Finally, we look at major developmental milestones for your 1-year old and a sneak peek at what's coming next as your baby becomes (wait for it--) a TODDLER!
As this first year comes to a close, we'd like to wish you the very best in your parenting adventure - we're so glad to have
shared this time with you and hope the information we've provided has been helpful. Please take a moment or two to give us some feedback through this brief survey.
And please feel free to share our website with other new moms and moms-to-be. We'd love to extend the circle of support to others!
Remember, though individual babies grow and master skills at their own pace, developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age. How your baby plays, learns, vocalizes and acts offers important clues to his development. Tell your child's doctor or nurse if you notice any of these signs of possible developmental delay for this age, including:
Can’t stand when supported
Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide
Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada”
Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head
Doesn’t point to things
Loses skills he once had
Milestones – 12 Months and Beyond
As your baby moves toward a new sense of independence, you will be aware that:
He can’t yet distinguish between “yours” and “mine.” He’s likely to point to everything saying, “mine.”
She can respond to more words than she can say, which causes frustration.
He may greet other children with a push, poke or touch. He needs help in learning to be social.
Her unique personality is still developing. Accept her for who she is now, and remember that there’s no “right” or “wrong” temperament.
At 18-months, your baby will like to:
Move to music – marching, hopping, jumping, and dancing.
Pull or push a stroller, wagon, or small shopping cart.
Read picture books from home or the library, and have stories read to her.
Pretend he’s cooking, raking leaves, washing dishes, shopping and other activities he sees adults doing.
Reprinted with permission
Circle of Friends Toddler Play Group
The PARTNERS Family Resource center at 235 S. Auburn Street in Grass Valley hosts a weekly fun-filled morning of crafts, story time, movement, hands-on play and other toddler-friendly activities. Contact Vicki at (530) 273-4059 for meeting times and more information.
We hope the information we have provided has been helpful. Please feel free to share our website with other moms-to-be. We'd love to extend the circle of support to others!