Your baby’s thinking is not yet developed enough to tell right from wrong. He will not remember warnings you gave him from one time to the next. Your child is ready to start learning about limits when he is around nice or 10 months old.
Setting limits is teaching, not punishment. Just as your baby learned what to expect at bath time, or that sitting in the high chair means it is time to eat, your child looks to you to teach him about behavior. This is not always easy. The hardest job for all parents is teaching children about limits and self-control.
Babies imitate what they see. They see each response, every expression and gesture. They start to copy what they see at an early age. It is important for you to model the behavior you want your child to learn. Remember your baby will test your limits.
Baby drops her spoon on the floor and laughs to see you pick it up. She is learning about cause and effect. She is experimenting. Drop the spoon. Mom picks it up. Drop it again. There goes Mom again getting the spoon. This is fun. Baby is not trying to annoy you. She is learning. If you don’t have time to play the “spoon game” remove the spoon or use it to feed her. She may be finished eating, which is why she started to play. In this case, you can release her from her high chair.
Don’t get angry with your child when she is testing limits. Be patient. If you have time, make a game of it. If you do not have time, remove the object and change her attention to something else. Changing her focus is a great tool when young ones engage in behavior you want to discourage.
The concept of “no” is starting to make sense at this time. But this is also the time when babies want to test what “no” means. This is how your baby learns limits.
Tips for Setting Limits
- You will learn what works best for you in teaching your child limits. Here are some ideas that have worked for other parents:
- When setting limits, be calm and loving. Do not lose control of your temper. Remember, your child is watching you closely and will model your behavior later.
- Predictable limits are rules your child understands. Rules she understands will help your child stay under control.
- Teach your child why limits are needed.
- One of the best tools a parent has for steering their children away from bad behavior is directing their attention to something else. If your child is insisting on playing with something he should not, give him something else to play with. Children still have short memories at this time. Often it is easy to change their attention.
- Reserve firm “no’s” to those times when real dangers exist. For example, when your child is playing with an electric cord.
- Do not forget to reward good behavior. Give your child a smile and hug. Show him you appreciate good behavior. If you show a child respect for the good things he does, he will not be as likely to misbehave just to get your attention.
- Remember setting limits is teaching, not punishment!
—- from First5 Advice for New Parents