Thursday, March 10, 2011

Consistency, Discipline and Spoiling

I have been struggling with something and I need your help. How do you teach a 1 year old about discipline?

Yesterday, Smug-Sister and I were talking about Smug-Baby and the whole sleep pattern thing and she said something that stuck with me. She said that if Smug-Baby keeps popping up in the middle of the night wanting to play and eventually we get up and take her into the living room to play while one of us gets some sleep, that we are actually reinforcing to her that if she is persistent enough we will get up and that is what she really wants. Smug-Sister told me that, in her opinion, consistency in the key to teaching a child how to behave.

OK, that makes a lot of sense to me. But here is the thing; Smug-Baby doesn't have the mental capacity to understand everything that is going on. For example when I leave the room to, say, pee, she begins to cry because she wants me to come back. I don't want to teach her that the way to get what she wants is to burst into hysterics, however, I was coming back anyway and I HAVE to come back regardless. Do I hide in the bathroom until she gives up and stops crying? That seems a bit unrealistic!!

She doesn't yet understand the difference between the crying that gets her the desired result and the crying that doesn't. She cries every time I put her in the car seat, but that doesn't result in not having to get into the car seat, but she still cries each and every time!

We were playing on the floor today and I got up to grab the remote and she thought I was leaving so burst into tears. By the time she really even noticed and started crying I was already sitting back down with her. Does that teach her that if she doesn't want me to move she should cry and I'll sit right back down??

How does a parent teach their child not to cry to get their way? If you run to a crying child every time they cry are you spoiling them? My Gramps this morning asked if Smug-Baby was getting spoiled. I replied that I didn't think so, but when I got up to make his bed, she burst into tears because she didn't want to be alone with him, so I picked her up and took her with me to make the bed. He commented that she was spoiled for sure. But here is the thing, she is shy, she is insecure about this huge world and these giant people all around her. I get that and I don't want her to think that she can't trust me to take care of her or to respect how she feels. I think that her confidence will build and already has where Gramps is concerned; they play and talk some now, as long as I am close by. I don’t want to undermine that by forcing her to hang with him if she’s not ready. That will have the opposite effect right? She would associate him with something scary.

She is gaining confidence in her ability to walk unassisted every day, but she still doesn't like to let go of my hand in public. I don't think that she is scared of falling; she is scared of the big, loud world! How does it help her to be forced to let go of me and be scared?

I think that in another year she will have a better understanding about her world and of what I am saying to her. Then I can work on teaching her the difference between crying that equals in getting what she wants and crying that doesn't. However, what do I do now? I feel like this is when the molding begins which is why I am so adamant about making sure she feels safe and loved and respected, but I also don't want to raise a brat!!



  1. Your sister is right ;)

    Consistency IS important even at this age. It doesn't matter, for example, if you're getting up to walk across the room or across the house. You do what you need to do regardless of how she reacts. If you do this consistently, in time she will learn on her own when you're leaving the room and when you're just moving around. Don't underestimate her intelligence and ability to reason, even at this age. She's capable of understanding more things than you might realize. She just can't express it yet. (This is a lesson Jordan still teaches us!)

    "How does it help her to be forced to let go of me and be scared?"

    She's too young to know what's supposed to be scary and what isn't. So to her, most things will default to "scary".

    She will only change her view of something to "not scary" through your guidance or through how you react to it.

    It doesn't matter if it's walking or something else - if you treat it like something she can't do alone, she won't do it alone. If you encourage her to do it herself, in time she'll overcome the fear and succeed.

    Dealing with and overcoming fear is an important skill, and we don't learn to do it by running to hide behind mommy. We learn it by letting go of her hand enough times to figure out that we can do it on our own.

    Strangely enough, this applies no matter if we're one year old or thirty :P

  2. I agree with Lugnut. Also, I think that the night time thing is probably teaching her she can play at night whenever. I"m not sure how to solve that for you though. We don't do any timeouts yet really - they can only last 1 minute at this age anyway - when DS is doing something inappropriate (like peeling paint off the wall or throwing CDs) I tell him not to touch that in a serious-ish voice and sometimes he'll stop. Sometimes he laughs and continues. If he doesn't stop after my first warning, I again tell him to stop and pick him up and remove him from the area. Babies/kids also need to hear YES as in when something is appropriate. So as soon as I remove him, I find something appropriate that he likes to do and we sit down and play with that for a little bit. He's gotten MUCH Better about the no-no's since then. He loves to please me. :)

    I think you gotta just do life as you do it, and she slowly will figure out when it's necessary to cry and persist, even if it's something you don't want her to persist with. :)You are doing great Mama - and you'll figure this out, to be sure. In your own way.

  3. This comes from this being your first child.
    I think it takes having the second to really get that sometimes it's okay to let them cry, so that you can complete that 10 minute task. Alexander would cry for me to hold him when I was breastfeeding. Should I stop feeding the baby to take care of him, of course not. No child ever dead from crying. I think it's harder for you, because there is nothing more important to you then her.
    I think getting up in the middle of the night is a habit for her now. If you want her to sleep thru the night, you have to let her cry it out. If you don't mind, and you enjoy that time, then I think it's up to you. Who says you can't have a playdate at 1am.
    Also, timeouts can start at 12 months. It's a minute for however old they are. That's where the consistency comes in. She'll learn that everytime she hits (or whatever behavior) she has a minute in the crab, and if she doesn't like going to the crab she willn't hit (or whatever behavior).
    In the end, Mothers can give you a thousand opinions and advice, it's how you want to parent her, and what your okay with that matters.

  4. I think it's a matter of what lessons you want to teach your child. My lil one seems very similar in behavior and is timid. I believe in attachment style parenting and that their confidence builds by knowing that you will provide for their needs. At one year, she is still learning that you exist even when she can't see or hear you. Peek a boo and making games out of walking out of a room and coming back can help her to learn that you will return. Using the same words or gestures every time you leave a room will reinforce this lesson as well and give her consistency.

    As far as night-time play, getting her out of bed does reinforce that play time at night is fun. She will continue to do it. Making it boring for her will help her to not want to do it. Keep the lights low and even if you have to take her to another room, keep it quiet and dark and don't introduce toys and playtime. You don't have to let her cry it out or make it fun there is a middle ground :) BTW, just wanna say, I think you're doing an awesome job!

  5. I was the same way with both my girls and that way was if they cried, I picked them up. If they followed me into a room, I let them. If they didn't want me to leave a room without them, I took them. I spoiled them both but that's okay. They're our babies and yes there are limits and you'll figure out what those are but every baby is different and every mom is different. Livie is 2 and I'm starting to not pick her up as much if she's crying for me...But a baby Smug's age? Yeah. I always picked them up.

    Just offering the other side of the coin. xo

  6. Thanks everyone for the thoughts and advice!!