Most parents recognise the need to instil solid values in their children, by encouraging good behaviour and helping them discern between right and wrong. Doing so ensures that you’ll send out well-behaved individuals into the world to make it a better place. Your child will also grow up to be a happy, confident person who respects others and has problem-solving and other life skills. Here’s how to go about guiding your munchkin’s behaviour.
0 to 6 months
* While it’s impossible to give your newborn a time-out in the early months, you can set the stage for discipline and what is expected of your baby’s behaviour in time to come.
* You may wonder if you’re giving in too much to bubba when you’re picking her up for the umpteenth time, but you won’t be spoiling your baby if you respond to her needs, experts assure.
* In fact, giving junior as much love and attention as possible now actually helps her become better adjusted and behaved later as she’ll know that you’ll be there to meet her needs.
* The toddler who trusts her mum and dad to give her food and comfort will also trust them when they say “don’t go in there” or “don’t touch that”, which makes it easier for you to handle behavioural issues as she gets older.
6 to 12 months
* Once your peewee starts to sit up, she’ll be exploring a whole new world of things to see, touch, feel and do. She might make a grab for your glasses, or that hot mug of coffee on the table. Give her word associations, like “yes touch” or “no touch” or “pat pat” to help her distinguish between what’s safe and what’s not.
* Know your little one’s personality as some babies require a firm voice, while others respond better to a gentler tone.
* Once your munchkin is on the move, she’ll be getting her fingers into loads of stuff, but if you say “no” all the time, you’ll send a message that that world is off limits. Instead, distract and re-direct. Point her to her teddy instead, or pull out a special book to read to her.
* If she experiences separation anxiety, encourage her to occupy herself, instead of running to her immediately. Say, “Mummy’s in the kitchen preparing lunch ― it’s okay, you can play with your blocks for five minutes.”
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12 to 18 months
* Your tot might go through a “throw everything onto the floor” phase. Instead of giving in to her wish for a drop-and-pick-up game, leave the dropped item on the floor to show that it’s over.
* If you thought your peewee could wail as an infant, wait till you hear her toddler shrieks, which can be embarrassing if you’re dining out. Resist the urge to yell. Instead, explain the rules to her ― “We talk in a quiet voice in restaurants”. Once she understands, she’ll be better able to act on them.
* Another discipline strategy is to get her involved in daily chores like sorting the laundry or fetching the cutlery before dinner, which is a cue that it’s time to get ready for a meal herself.
* Make sure you tell your sweetie you like how she’s behaving when she’s showing good behaviour and reward her with songs and stories, rather than speaking up only when she is doing something wrong.
* Though your mini-dynamo’s vocab is growing, she’s still unable to articulate how she feels. Help her put words to her feelings like, “You must be frustrated that you can’t reach your Mickey Mouse blanket. Let’s get it for you.”
* It takes patience and repetition to teach compliance, so be consistent. For instance, don’t confuse your child by telling her that she can’t have that lollipop one day, then giving in the following day.
* Don’t shame or criticise her. Know that she usually acts out of curiosity to see your reaction and is not doing something naughty on purpose. Calling her a naughty girl can crush her developing self-confidence, nor does this teach her what’s right.
* Consider using the time-out method when her tantrums get out of control. Limit it to a minute, then say, “I know we’re both mad right now and need to calm down.” How about introducing “time-ins” ― offering big hugs and cuddles ― to celebrate good behaviour?
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