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Your One-Year-Old: Beginning Discipline

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Rule #1: The word "discipline" means teaching, not punishing.

  • Understand that, at this age, baby is beginning to learn the word no. Only use it when you mean it, and expect baby to challenge you on it every time for a while. For example, be sure to use the word no when she's unsafe. This will help her understand the concept faster.

  • The key here is not to teach your baby that the only time she gets attention from you is when she's bad. Do this by spending just as much time and attention noticing when she's good.

  • Start taking your baby to a house of worship early. This way, she will learn about respect and how to be quiet at an early age.

  • Do you ever wonder how some parents keep their babies so quiet and reverent at houses of worship? It's because they take it seriously, and they don't train baby to consider it "fun time." Try not to bring disruptive things like lots of foods and snacks, coloring books, toys, or the like. Let your baby see others being quiet and they will learn to be quiet.

  • At this age, babies are just beginning to understand your commands, and they learn this by cause and effect. If I do this, then this happens. So if baby does something wrong that is a cause, be sure to have an effect like "No! No!" and then change the situation.

  • Don't forget the "Poppa Bear" strategy, in which Poppa comes in and reinforces the "No! No!" in an even lower and more commanding tone. This strategy is my favorite for teaching discipline.

  • Using the "out of sight, out of mind" strategy also works well at this age, when it's hard to discipline. Childproof your home and simply put things out of sight that baby shouldn't have.

  • During the earlier months, baby will do things like pull hair and such when she's really just trying to show you affection. When these moments come along, say, "No! No!" in a sweet tone and try to replace the action with something that is positive like a kiss on the hand.

  • It's better to distract babies at this age than to try to use a method like "time-outs." Time-outs are when you put baby into a spot removed from the situation for several minutes at a time. The method usually doesn't work because #1, babies this age have no idea what you are trying to accomplish, and #2, they don't remember what they did wrong in the first place. Parents end up giving in when baby won't sit for more than one second and at the end of the day, giving in is an even worse problem than the original situation.

  • Ignoring your baby's bad behavior at this age and until you know baby "gets it" is actually the recommended treatment.

  • Baby will be naturally happier when she knows you are protecting her from harm.

  • When distracting baby or changing the situation is necessary, be sure to offer an alternative. For example, take away the knick-knack and in a cheerful voice say, "No! No! How about your purple block? It's so much fun to play with blocks!"

  • Tell baby what she can and cannot have, in a flat and factual tone, with an explanation and love. "You cannot play with this because you will hurt yourself and I love you too much to let you hurt yourself." Even if you don't think she gets it right away, the repetitiveness will help her to figure out what you're saying and what the boundaries are.

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Copyright © 2006 by Jeanne Murphy. Excerpted from And Baby Turns One with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon.com.


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