Oh. Dear. Me.
My little one is 9 months old today. What does that mean? Well...lots of things.
It means she joyfully laughs at something she finds funny that has nothing to do with me. It means she is cruising on everything. I means she can (and is) mimicking sounds such as the "b" sound for "baby" and "ball" and the "p" sound for "potty" and "puppy." It means that just the other day, she was signing "puppy" and as I pulled toy after toy off the shelf to see which one she wanted, she aptly shook her head "no" at each toy. (Of course, I never did get the right toy because after a couple of head shakes, I think it became a game.)
It also means I am losing time to train this child in the way she should go.
Don't you gasp at me! My 9 month old is mastering the art of manipulation.... What, yours isn't???
Those of you that are parents, answer me this.... How many times has your little one thrown her sippy cup to the ground after you've repeatedly told her 'no?' What great contortions can your baby get into to get out of having his diaper changed? How loud has your angel screamed when you took an object away that they wanted?
This is called defiance. Rebellion. And it is a weed that can destroy the whole crop.
Listening instead of judging now, are we? Well...I hope so.
I would much rather train a baby to have self-control than a teenager.
A baby can have self-control, you ask? Yes, they can. I've seen it. And not only is it a joy to watch, but the immense peace the CHILD gets from delaying gratification is breath-taking. I kid you not. Ask yourself which is better...
This is the scenario:
You have warned and corralled your baby away from electrical sockets. One day, you have been charging a phone/iPod and forget to recover the socket. Your baby (6 months+) sees the uncovered socket and happily finds something else to play with, looking for your acceptance of her obedience (and hopefully getting it!). (YAY!) Or, do they, seeing the free-will chance to 'explore,' begin to stick their precious finger in the socket? Maybe you catch her before it's too late. Maybe you don't.
Hearing those screams of pain isn't cute.
Neither is disobedience.
So, what was the difference in these babies? Why would one stop and the other one go for it anyway, despite your repeated warnings?
Consistency. (It is ALWAYS the parents/caregivers fault if a child gets away with rebellion.) You have corralled her a hundred times, perhaps smiling as you've done it. When she screamed to explore the socket, you've endured it. However, have you ever thought about making the exploration (actual TOUCHING) of the socket, unpleasant? Truly unpleasant?
A 'pop' with two fingers on the back of the hand isn't going to kill them or even bruise them, people. And if you start out like this, you will not ever have to pop them harder than this or raise your voice. I have an almost four-year-old that can attest to this. Most of the time, a firm, quiet "right now" will get Ham moving in no time. If it doesn't, as silly as it may seem, a little pop with a debit card or tongue depressor will sober her up.
In training a child, you must make disobedience, rebellion, or physically dangerous things MORE unpleasant than the act of defiance. And don't kid yourself, sin seems fun! Especially when there are no immediate consequences.
However, never let them get away with it. Don't let that 'one time' go. That 'one time' will turn into 50 times and you'll have a three year-old who walks all over you. Don't blame them! It's what you trained them to do!
Let me reiterate. A child throwing a tantrum is not a bad child. He is only doing what he was taught! If you get $100 every time you throw a tantrum, wouldn't you keep doing it? Doesn't make you BAD, it makes you TRAINED!
Likewise, having a child that throw tantrums does not make you a bad parent. You just need to tweak your training a bit. Tantrums should be as unpleasant to the child as they are to all of us watching.
If a child throws a fit for attention, what do you do? You ignore them.
If a child screams for a sucker, what should they get? Definitely NOT the sucker! If they are older, they shouldn't even get a cracker! Screaming shouldn't reward them ANYTHING.
If a child hits their sister to gain a toy, what should happen? They don't get to play. Period.
Like learning to maintain finances, this is easy stuff to KNOW. It's implementing it and delaying our OWN gratification that is the hard part. We are the example. Isn't it nice to have a bank account with money in it? I don't want my child to start out with a deficit in life because I'm too impatient to teach them the joy and peace of self-restraint.