10 months old
Learning to Discipline
If there’s one across-the-board truth about parenting, it’s that parenting looks so much easier when you’re not actually doing it. Things that make perfect sense – like not reinforcing bad behavior and not giving into tantrums – are easier said than done. Up until this point, your main job was to keep your baby healthy, safe and loved – which is arguably easier than setting boundaries and enforcing rules. Yet here you are, cleaning up broken glass and picking up toilet paper that has been unrolled all throughout the house, wondering why you thought infancy was so challenging.
- Your 10-month-old is too young to fully grasp the concept of “right” and “wrong,” but it’s important to start instilling those rules now.
- But before you can do that, you should know what the rules are that you’re enforcing. Each family has its own set of household values – like no eating in the living room, no jumping on the couch and no going into mommy’s office.
- Because it’s vitally important to be consistent, sit down with your partner and other caregivers to really lay down the laws.
- At the same time, your baby will learn through exploration. Don’t set so many rules and limitations that everything is off limits.
- Properly childproofing will limit the number of times you have to say “no,” giving your baby more freedom to safely explore. Plus, saying “no” over and over will make the term less effective, as well as be discouraging for your baby.
- When you do have to say “no,” try following up with a positive. Offer something safe for your baby to do or play with.
- Another important part of disciplining is always following through. Don’t tell your baby he or she can’t do something and then quickly give in.
- If your baby isn’t listening, then saying “no” over and over isn’t going to work. Part of following through means actually stepping in and physically removing your baby from the situation. A simple distraction usually does the trick, although particularly stubborn babies will want to go right back to the off-limits action.
- As adorable as it might be when your baby flashes an extra-cute grin after being disciplined, try your very hardest not to crumble into laughter or even break face. Your baby needs to take you seriously. (That’s when you go into the other room and quietly giggle.)
- At the same time, there are some circumstances where humor and laughing can break through a tantrum. When it comes to non-dangerous situations that could quickly escalate into a battle, such as your baby not wanting to put on pajamas or brush his or her teeth, it can be far more effective to distract your baby with silliness or jokes to break up the tension. Put the pajamas on your head or sing a silly song about brushing your teeth. In other words, pick your battles.
- Don’t label your baby as “bad,” as it can eventually be a blow to their self-esteem. Your baby can’t be “bad” by simply learning the rules, so instead label the actions as bad. Treat these early moments of discipline as a chance to teach rather than punish.
- Most importantly, understand that your baby will make mistakes – and allow him or her to do so. Staying calm and patient are far more effective than flying off the handle and making idle punishments. In fact, your baby really won’t be able to understand the concept of punishments at this age – such as “time out” – so it’s better to correct your baby than it is to punish.
- It’s also important to teach your baby through example – such as saying thank you when your baby hands you something, apologizing when you inevitably lose your temper and explaining why you’re taking something away.