Boundary setting for a 1yo?

(29 Posts)

DD is going to be one next week. She's wonderful, bright and very mobile (walking for a month or so now). But she thinks the bin and the loo seat are the most delicious things ever. She adores emptying every drawer within reach. She throws her food on the floor with a glint in her eye and giggles when I try to tell her not to.

Originally I just assumed she was a baby and thus there was no point in trying to tell her not to do something because she wouldn't understand. But she does understand! And everyone around me is telling me over and over that I have to set boundaries and be stricter with her including CC so she sleeps, which I'm still ignoring. But how do you set boundaries for such a little person? I don't want to get cross with her for investigating her surroundings, but I also don't want her to grow up thinking she can do whatever she wants ...

What I currently do is say no loudly when she does something I don't want her to. When she then does it again, I remove her from the situation/room and plonk her down on her playmat with some toys to distract her. This doesn't appear to be working, but maybe I just have to be consistent and keep going?

She throws her food on the floor whatever I do, seemingly. I'd really like her to stop this ... How naive am I being?!

Any ideas?

PassTheCremeEggs Fri 26-Apr-13 13:28:38

Watching with interest as I am in exactly the same situation!

Gintonic Fri 26-Apr-13 13:55:28

I'm just starting with all this, my baby is 10.5 months. I agree you can't be telling them "no" all the time, it will stop being effective. You need to save no for times you really mean it and are ready to follow through.

So for example the toilet is an important one for me because it is dangerous - so I say "no" firmly as soon as he approaches it, then take him out of the situation. But I don't use no to stop him pulling my hair because I know i can't win! I just put up with it or tie it back.

I don't stop him throwing food, if he drops it accidentally I pick it up and give it back (there is a mat under his high chair). Recently he has started throwing food as a game. So I just leave the food on the floor. If he keeps throwing I end the meal as I figure he can't be very hungry. My baby is a greedy monkey so am hoping he will quickly learn not to do it.

I think he is starting to understand no and obey it sometimes, but it is hard to say. I'dbe interested to know how people with older babies have done it.

Just read my post back, and the first line sounds really boastful, sorry. Obviously we all know think our babies are wonderful and bright. I guess I wanted to say something nice about DD before I then went on to complain about her behaviour.

Ah yes, the hair pulling. It's driving me up the wall. She also pulls at our glasses constantly. DH just takes his off, but I feel she needs to learn not to do it, because not everyone will think our PFB is that cute when she throws someone's expensive specs on the floor.

If I say no or stop to bin licking/drawer emptying/food throwing, she does a little jump (like a guilty thing because she knows she's been caught doing something she's not supposed to), then does as much of whatever it is as possible before I can get there to pick her up. (Lots of furious licking, knicker throwing, etc.) It's hilarious, but laughing at her is not going to help her learn not to do it <stern>

No doesn't work at this age - not for long. They are wired to explore - its how they learn.

So you need to show them what they can do. It works better. So dd pulls my glasses - I tell her to be gentle and stroke my fce and show her how to do it. I distract her if she does something she shouldn't, if she pulls stuff out, I sit with her and explain it to her then we put it back together.

She probably jumps because your voice sounds firm. I'm not sure the concept of guilt quite applies!

(I have two BTW, 3.6 and 17 months)

ppeatfruit Fri 26-Apr-13 16:16:54

She's a BABY why not tell anyone with expensive glasses to take them off if they're going to hold her. A firm NO (but as you say don't let one of her first words be 'NO" grin) and find something else for her to do as creature says.

I'm an ex CM,nanny, M of 3 I did use a soft play pen with something new in it for when they get too much or take her out to the park to get rid of some of her energy. Then just sit down with a book with her for some quiet time.

BLW is a lot less messy!

forevergreek Fri 26-Apr-13 16:30:28

They def can understand at this age. I also agree with not using NO too often. I try and keep a firm NO for dangerous situations only ( ie hot things/ traffic/ etc)

Guide away from the bin/ toilet to something else. Let her put actual rubbish in with you, then show how it closes and is finished

Drawer emptying. I actually don't mind, I just made sure lower drawers/ cupboards were unbreakable items. Ie just food/ plastic/ saucepans etc. maybe have a particular drawer with just things like wooden spoons/ sieves etc that she is allowed to empty as much as she likes ( then you can stear away from the others)

Food I say no throwing, then remove if continues.

rrreow Fri 26-Apr-13 18:05:12

I reserve NO for dangerous situations. Hob/oven related, breakable items, street, putting hands down toilet (ok last one not strictly dangerous but highly unhygienic!).

Then I make sure that wherever possible the environment is suitable. It especially helps to have one space where they can just do anything because everything is child proofed. Also I don't sweat the small stuff, if DS wants to empty the drawers/cupboards in the kitchen I just let him. There is a lock on the cupboard with dangerous items (bleach etc), but everything else is fair game, he's only learning.

Everything else I will just use gentle explanations. "Food is for eating, not for throwing." Then if it continues just calmly take it away. Same with anything else. If he cries I acknowledge his feelings and what he wants, and then distract with something else.

At this point you're laying the foundations. Don't expect compliance right here right now (that's unrealistic with a child so young).

QTPie Fri 26-Apr-13 19:02:12

For a one year old you are doing exactly the right things (ie a simple "no" and then removing/distracting her if she does it again).

Yes, she understands what you say, but thinks it is a game and doesn't see things the same way we do. Her impulses are too strong also.

The only thing that I would add to that, at that age, is trying to keep her from such situations that you don't want her in: if you can keep the bin somewhere where she can't get at it, drawer locks or emptying drawers. Put a big sheet/mat under the highchair that you can easily "shake outside" after a meal. That is what we did. small babies have very little "impulse control" and so remove as much temptation as you can (reintroducing it, slowly, as they get older and get better understanding/control).

Honestly, what we (adults) consider "good behaviour", listening, obeying, good manners are a long, patient marathon and not a sprint... DS is 3.25 and is generally very good and his manners are coming along great, BUT he very much has his moments and parenting still takes a lot of patience some times. That isn't because of slack parenting (I am pretty strict), but a small child is a small child...

So hang in there, remove temptations/problems that you can and that regularly cause problems and keep up with gentle "no", removal/distraction...

Thanks for all the responses and advice. I'm going to try to keep no for dangerous/serious things, and keep calmer when it's not.

For what it's worth, she does have one cupboard in the kitchen that is just full of tupperware/plastic bowls, which she is allowed to play with whenever she likes. (All other kitchen cupbaords are locked.) And I have a tub full of random bits and pieces like jamjar lids and spatulas kept within her reach for her to mess about with. It's just, these things are no longer interesting because she's allowed them!

I feel really bad if you think she's jumping because I sound too stern. I definitely don't get cross with her properly (although DH got very cross at supper when she threw things repeatedly on the floor sad). But she does know when she's doing something she's not allowed to do, or at least, she knows that when she does a certain thing, I react in a certain way. She thinks it's funny regardless.

We live in Germany and they all seem rather strict here. Co-sleeping, breastfeeding still and not telling my baby off for certain things are all considered a bit bonkers behaviour, to be honest. Friends, German relatives and health-care professionals all have strong opinions on the way we're bringing up DD, and they're not generally complimentary.

Or maybe I'm just being too sensitive about it all and over-thinking it. Thanks for everyone's help and sorry for dripfeeding. That wasn't my intention. I seem to have lost my parenting confidence somewhere along the way ...

QTPie, that makes so much sense about the impulse control. And of course she understands things differently to how we do. I'm not sure how I ever lost sight of that point.

mummy2benji Fri 26-Apr-13 19:45:13

Ah I remember that age and having to repeat myself over and over with ds1. I do think it is important to set boundaries as this is the age where they learn what is acceptable, what is not, and what is absolutely forbidden. I felt like I was saying "NO!" constantly! But they don't know what they should or shouldn't be doing unless we teach them. Don't get cross with her for doing anything that you've not yet told her that she mustn't do - of course she will explore, and will break things and make a mess. That's only naughty if you've specifically told her "NO" to trying to climb up the bookcase (for eg.) Once you've pointed out what she can't do, stick to your guns, tell her NO and remove her from whatever she was doing. Plonk her down elsewhere with some toys or something else to do. There is a lot of "NO!" and removing and plonking down at that age but it does go in eventually, I promise! She will remember that you never let her think it was acceptable to poke the rabbit with a stick. Keep at it!

teacher123 Fri 26-Apr-13 20:55:33

DS is also very nearly one and does pretty much everything you describe! Especially the 'I'm going to do the naughty thing as much as possible until you grab me mummy' when he's trying to lick the telly....!

What we've done is moved everything that is remotely precious or breakable out of harms way downstairs and have put a stairgate on the door to the lounge. Our kitchen has a hatch so we can see him whilst making a cup of tea etc. we've also got a playpen we put him in so we know he's completely safe when we go upstairs to get something.

It is so tiring constantly saying no. So we did mega house reorganising to try and give him freedom and safety at the same time! I figure though its a big success when he walks away from the telly sometimes mid-lick when I say 'no!'

QTPie Fri 26-Apr-13 21:10:19

Different cultures (and generations) see things very differently... My mother-in-law id about 65 and is Chinese: she sees things very differently to me, but to be fair she is actually very good about it and not pushy (probably a good thing for her - since otherwise she would see less of DS wink ). She started potty training DH at one month old and couldn't undo tans why I didn't do it with DS... She also believes in slapping and that "crying exercises the lungs". However, she has always followed my parenting wishes.

I really like German people, but they do have a habit of being very honest and speaking their minds: which can be difficult with sensitive things like parenting.

Parenting is the toughest and most important job that there is: what you do now will have long term effects. However all parents make mistakes and have down days - so everyone has to give themselves a break.

Yelling and loosing it often only has the effect of firstly becoming a game and secondly teaching them that "yelling and loosing it" is acceptable (which is not a good thing...). I do remind myself of this if I yell of loose it... and if I do, I know that it is me loosing control that is the problem and not DS. So I strive not to yell or loose it. If I do, them I apologise to DS.

Are you familer with supernanny (Jo Frost)? I have her toddler book and it is excellent. I am sure that she does a baby book too - why not have a look? Might give you some ideas and explain how babies think.

I am an older (well 39 now - was almost 36 when DS was born) first time mum and I found books really helped me. Good behaviour and manners ARE very important to me (it is what a really strive for for DS and so that we can take him to nice restaurants, nice hotels and other people's houses and he will behave well), but trying to teach them to a baby or young child is not as straight forward as to an adult: so books (like Jo Frost's) help to understand how children tick and how to manipulate them to doing what you want (hopefully most/some of the time!). It isn't a miracle cure, but it helps out you on the right path. Then you need a hell of a lot of patience, an awful lot of repeating yourself and a lot of adapting to keep up with their changes too.

It is a difficult middle ground: trying to get a balance between "good behaviour" and "understanding that young children are young children". I think that it comes down to age and situation appropriateness. Understanding what you can expect for a certain age of child and what situations are best avoided until they are older and more able to handle their impulses and follow instructions etc.

Don't worry, your confidence will grow.

QTPie Fri 26-Apr-13 21:20:44

And as teacher123 says: the child proofing is exactly what we did - not only to keep DS safe, but to mean that we went always saying "no" too.

All children are different: I remember one of DS's NCT group was going up and down the stairs (in his house) and playing in his own room by himself at 18 months old. He was an incredibly careful child and could (goodness knows how) be trusted. I just couldn't have done that with DS (and actually I still keep am eye on him). Doesn't mean that DS was bad or my patenting was bad (not strict enough): just that DS is a very different type of child to his friend. His friend is introverted, quiet, shy, academically advanced and emotionally advanced. DS is confident, adventurous, independent, physically advanced, extroverted. So the way of bringing up one child is often different to how you would bring up another.

ppeatfruit Sat 27-Apr-13 09:39:55

QTPie That is sooo true about every child being different. I know sometimes Supernanny is interesting but what i find annoying about her programmes (i haven't read her books) is that it seems she forgets that babies get hungry and tired and nothing is going to improve their behaviour until those important issues are addressed. (DH is the same!) (Also she talks about self control hypocritically her weight is obvious that her OWN self control is lacking at times grin)

ppeatfruit Sat 27-Apr-13 09:41:25

What I really HATE is the parenting that involves "Do what I say not what I do".

QTPie Sat 27-Apr-13 17:09:37

I never watch her TV series (too "sensationalist"), but her books seem to make a lot of sense (as always, pick and choose within context). Also "what every parent needs to know" (Margot Sunderland).

I was having a really down day yesterday. You lot have helped me put it all in perspective again! Thank you.

The only thing I know about Jo Frost is her controlled crying technique because of the thread in Sleep. I suppose we are edging closer towards doing it, as DD hasn't slept for more than two hours at a time since birth, and I am beyond exhausted. Please don't flame me! (If anyone has any other magic solution, I am all ears!!) But I shall have a look for her books on Amazon.

Teacher, I'm glad someone else's baby does that! It cracks me up smile I think a playpen may well be a good investment.

Your MIL, QT, sounds interesting! When families are made up of different cultures it makes for very lively parenting discussions, I've found especially when PIL don't know when to butt out. Yes, I generally find the Germans I know to be much more direct in what they say, whether supportive or not. They DH find me too wishy-washy sometimes with my endless English apologies and polite roundabout way of asking someone if they had ever possibly thought about maybe doing something slightly differently if it wasn't too much trouble grin

So, DH and I had a good conversation today about impulses and lack of control, and we are now on the same page for how we're going to deal with DD ... We're going back to how we were instinctively dealing with it before everyone PIL came along and told us we needed to be stricter!

A stern no the first time she does something, then removing and plonking elsewhere with distraction when she does it again. And not panicking that we will have a little terror on our hands when she doesn't immediately do what we say.

Today I decided not to care if she threw her food on the floor, and you know what, mealtimes were so much less stressful. And she ate loads!

And in terms of safety, we've pretty much got it covered except for the loo and the bin, which aren't dangerous, just unhygienic. A bit of extra cleaning won't hurt.

I'm 27, and although most people would probably think me quite confident, I have lots of issues around trusting my own judgement. But I think that I was probably doing things ok before I let other people influence me. Thanks for helping me see that! Gawd, I sound like such a sap ...

Now off to watch sensationalist Supernanny on YouTube grin

chattychattyboomba Sat 27-Apr-13 19:37:49

OP you are doing everything right. It's a difficult faze and you are correct in thinking you can't just let her do everything she wants but that also it's a natural stage in her development. You just have to continue what you are doing and this will be a difficult time but as she gets older she will get the picture eventually. Consistency is always the key. There's no magic cure. DD is 2 now and she is so much more responsive now but still tests her boundaries!

teacher123 Sat 27-Apr-13 20:33:27

We're the only one of our friends to have a playpen...! I'm not sure what that says about our parenting wink having said that he goes in it quite happily to watch postman pat in the mornings whilst I put the washing on and make breakfast so I don't think it's doing him any harm! It is a godsend as it just means you can have 10 minutes proper peace and quiet without worrying that he will break something! This afternoon whilst I was changing the beds upstairs and ds and dh were downstairs ds pulled the table cloth off the table, along with a massive hardback cookery book that landed an inch from his head... And we thought we'd childproofed!

Thanks, Chatty. I'm sure I will look back in a year or so and wonder why I was getting so het up about all this.

Teacher, oh god! Glad your DS was ok. A couple of our friends have playpens (and think we're nuts to not have one!) and feel the same way you do. I think I'm going to investigate. If we really are going to go for number two soon, I'm going to need one! <glutton for punishment>

teacher123 Sat 27-Apr-13 20:43:04

I heard an enormous crash and an 'oh shit' from DH and then a worryingly long silence...

The silences are always the most worrying grin

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