Tough time handling baby’s Behavior
Dawdling: A mother of eighteen-year-old boy talks with him every day to the grocery store. She complains that instead of walking right along, he wanders across the sidewalk and climbs the front steps of every house they pass on the way. The more she calls to him, the more he lingers. When she scolds him, he runs in the opposite direction. She is afraid that he is developing a behavior problem.
This baby doesn’t have a behavior problem, though he may be made to have one. He’s not at an age when he can keep the grocery store in mind. His natural instincts say to him, “Look at that sidewalk to explore! Look at those stairs!” Every time his mother calls to him, it reminds him of his newly felt urge to assert himself.
What can the mother do? If she has to get to the store promptly, she can take him in his stroller. But if she’s going to use this time for his outing, she should allow four times longer that if she were going alone and let him make his side trips. If she keeps moving-slowly- he’ll want to catch up to her every once in a while.
Challenge in stopping fun activities: It’s time to go in for lunch, but your small daughter is digging happily in the dirt. If you say, “Now it’s time to go in,” in a tone of voice that means, “Now you can’t have any more fun,” you will get resistance. But if you say cheerfully, “Let’s go climb the stairs,” you may give her a desire to go.
But suppose she’s tired and cranky that day and that nothing that’s indoor has any appeal. She just becomes disagreeably resistant right away. I’d pick her up casually and carry her indoors, even if she squeals and kicks. Do this in a self-confident way, as if you were saying to her, “I know you’re tired and cross, but when we have to go in, we have to.” Don’t scold her; that won’t make her see the error of her ways. Don’t argue with her, because that won’t change her mind; you will only become frustrated. A small child who is feeling miserable and making a scene is comforted underneath by sensing that the parent knows what to do with out getting angry.
Young children are very distractible, and that’s a big help. Year-old babies are so eager to find out about the whole world that they aren’t particular where they begin or stop. Even if they’re absorbed by a ring of keys, you can make them drop it by giving them an empty plastic cup. If toward the end of the first year your baby fights against having food washed off his faces and hands with a cloth after meals, set a pan of water on the tray and let him dabble his hands in it while you wash his face with your wet hand. Distractibility is one of the handles by which wise parents guide their children.
Throwing and Dropping around things: Around the age of one year, babies learn to drop things on purpose. They solemnly lean over the side of the high chair and drop food on the floor or toss toys, one after the other, out of the crib. Then they cry because they haven’t got them. Are these babies deliberately trying to annoy their parents? No. They aren’t even thinking about their parents. They fascinated by a new skill and ride a new two-wheeler. If you pick up the dropped object, they realize it’s a game that two can play and are delighted.
Unless you want to play this game a lot, it’s better not to get in the habit of picking up dropped toys right away. Instead, simply put your baby on the floor when he gets in this dropping mood. If you don’t want him throwing food from a high chair, promptly take the food away when he starts dropping and put him down to play. You can firmly say, “Food is for eating, toys are for playing, “but there’s no need to raise your voice. Trying to scold a baby out of dropping things leads to nothing but frustration for the patient.
Tantrums of anger: Almost all children have temper tantrums between one and three years, some temperamentally intense infants start as early as nine months. They’ve gained a sense of their desires and individuality. When they’re thwarted, they know it and feel angry. A temper tantrum once in a while doesn’t mean anything; a child is bound to be frustrated sometimes.
A surprising number of tantrums are a result of fatigue or hunger or of putting a child into a situation that is too stimulating. (Most shopping mall tantrums fall in this category.) If the tantrum is of this sort, a parent can ignore the apparent cause and deal with the underlying problem: “You’re tired and hungry, aren’t you? Let’s get you home and fed and to bed, you’ll feed a lot better.”
Some tantrums arise out of fear. This happens all the time at the doctor’s office. The best thing to do in these situations is to be calm and reassuring. No good comes from scolding a scared child.
Tantrums happen more frequently in children who tend to be easily upset by changes or who are especially sensitive to sensory input (noises, motion, or the feel of clothing against the skin, for instance). Tantrums often last longer in persistent children. Once they get started, it’s hard for them to stop, whether they’re playing, practicing walking, or screaming at the top of their lungs. Excessive tantrums- for example, more than three a day, lasting more than ten to fifteen minutes each- are sometimes a sign of illness or stress, it’s reasonable to consult your child’s doctor.
Changing nap hours: Nap times are shifting in most babies around the age of a year. Some who were taking a nap at about 9 A.M. may refuse it altogether or show that they want it later in the morning. If they take it late, they are unready for their next nap until the middle of the afternoon. This probably throws off their bedtime after supper. Or they may refuse the afternoon nap altogether. A baby may vary a lot from day to day at this period, even going back 9 A.M. nap after two weeks of refusing it. So don’t come to a final conclusion too soon. Put up with these inconveniences as best you can, realizing that they are temporary. With some babies who are not ready to sleep in the first part of the morning, you can remove the need for the before-lunch nap by putting them in their beds anyway, around nine in the morning, if they are willing to sit or lie quietly for a while. Of course, another kind of baby only gets in a rage of put to bed when she’s not sleepy, so nothing is accomplished.
If a baby becomes sleepy just before noon, it’s the parent’s cue to move lunch up to 11.30 or even eleven for a few days. The long nap will then come after lunch, but for a while, cutting down to one nap a day, whether morning or afternoon, may make the baby frantically tired before suppertime.
Don’t get the idea from this section that all babies give up their morning nap in the same way or at the same age. One is through with it at nine months; another craves it and benefits from it as later as two years. There is often a stage in a baby’s life when two naps are too many and one is not enough! You can help babies through this period by giving them supper and putting them to bed for the night a little earlier for the time being.
Bedtime routines: Though you need to be a little flexible about sleep issues, it’s also very helpful to have a bedtime routine. When things happen in the same way every day, it gives a young child a comforting sense of control. Bedtime routines can include stories, songs, prayers, hugs, and kisses, what’s important is that the same things happen in roughly the same order. Television or videos and roughhouse play tend to keep children excited and awake, so these activities are best left out of the bedtime routine.
EATING AND NUTRITION
Changes around one year: Around twelve to fifteen months, growth normally slows down and a toddler’s appetite is likewise apt to level off. Some actually eat less then they did a few months before, causing their parents to worry. But if a child’s growth plots out okay on the standard growth curve at the doctor’s office, you can be assured that he is getting enough. If you make the mistake of showing your toddler that you want him to eat more, chances are he’ll reward you by eating less, just to show you who’s in charge. A better strategy is to give your baby small helpings, so he can enjoy demanding more, and not to pay much attention to how much goes in. Instead, watch your baby to see whether he is happy and full of energy and pay attention to the growth chart.
Early in the second year, many parents wean their babies from their breast or the bottle. Unless you are giving your toddler a nondiary diet, the drink of choice should be whole cow’s milk (or full-fat soymilk) to build their brains. After age two, it’s sensible to switch to 1 percent or skim milk to lower the risk of heart disease as an adult.
Eating is a learning experience: For children to approach eating in a reasonable and healthy manner, they need to leaner to pay attention to the body signals that tell them when they are hungry and when they’ve had enough. They need confidence that food will be there when they’re hungry and that they won’t be forced to eat when they’re not hungry. You help your toddler learn these important lessons by making good food available and leaving it up to your child to decide how much to eat.
Table manners are also important: Every toddler experiments with mixing and smearing, testing the limits of what is acceptable. When your toddle crosses the line- throwing mashed potatoes, for instance- all you need to do is tell her firmly but calmly that food is for eating. Then remove her from the table and find her a ball or a cloth toy to throw. When eating turns to playing and it’s clear that your child isn’t hungry any more, it’s time for the meal to end. Twenty minutes or so is usually long enough.
TOILET TRAINING AND LEARNING
Readiness to train: At twelve or eighteen months, most toddlers aren’t ready for toilet training. They don’t have the body awareness yet to recognize when they have to go, nor the control to hold everything in then let it out at the right time. Mostly, they don’t really understand why they should sit on the potty instead of just filling up their diapers. Toddlers typically find their bodily productions interesting, not disgusting. They don’t see what all the fuss is about if the contents of their diapers get smeared around a bit.
Of course, there are some toddlers who train early, making all the other parents think that their children are behind. But for most children, training much before age eighteen months is bound to be difficult and unsatisfying, and many aren’t ready until two and a half. The psychologist Nathan Azrin and Richard Foxx describe an approach using powerful behavior modification techniques in their book, Toilet Training in Less Than a Day. But the instructions are fairly complicated; if you don’t follow them to the letter or your child doesn’t cooperate, you’re both likely to end up frustrated.
So my advice to most parents is to wait with training until a child is two to two and a half. At that age, most can master the potty without a fuss. If you do start earlier and things don’t go well, I don’t think you have to worry that you’ve caused long term psychological damage (as long as you dint use harsh punishment or abuse), but the training process may involve more upset and take longer in the end.
Toilet learning: While most one-year-olds aren’t ready for training, they can certainly learn about the potty. If you let your child into the bathroom with you and there is a child sized potty, your toddler may sit on it or even pretend to use it, just as she mimics vacuuming and other adult activities. This early interest is a sign that your child is learning about toileting, but it doesn’t mean she’s ready to take the next step. If you pressure her or even overdo the praise, there’s a good chance she’ll balk.
Part of using the toilet is washing the hands afterwards, and many toddlers are happy to have an excuse to get their hands wet and soapy. It’s helpful to talk about what you’re doing in the bathroom as you do it so that your child learns the words. I favor simple terms like pee and poop rather than cutesy baby talk or euphemisms (wee-wee or number two, for example). By talking in a straightforward way, you let your child know that toileting is simple a fact of life, not something secret, shameful, exciting, or mysterious.