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am I being too weak with 13 month old?

(22 Posts)
bclaremums Tue 06-Sep-11 11:03:31

It's so difficult to know whether my ds is pushing my limits or is in pain with teething or tired.
I am getting a lot of screaming, falling to knees with head back in the style of the end of Planet of the Apes whenever I take away something dangerous, stop him going after the cat etc.
At the moment I try to distract, give him something he likes, and speak gently (unless he is into something really dangerous when I do say no firmly)
However I am worried I am setting him up for the future to scream and shout to get what he wants. Advice please!

MrsGravy Tue 06-Sep-11 11:30:54

Are you asking whether you should be firmer with him? I'd say no. He's way too young to understand any kind of discipline, what you are doing (distraction, staying calm) sounds really good to me. They're way too young to manipulate at this age or have control over his emotions. He sounds like he's frustrated, he sees something he wants and he's being thwarted but is too little to understand why. My 14 month old DD is much the same. It's pretty exhausting but carry on with what you're doing and you'll come out the other side.

An0therName Tue 06-Sep-11 12:08:10

honestly it sounds fine - you are not letting him have whatever he wants and am keeping him safe.
I think it will be a bit older before you can worry about not being firm enough - my 19 month old sometimes does things to see what happens - like hitting his brother with something hard - he gets told a firm no and put on his bum.

if he want something he can't have - its a combination of distraction, and letting him wail -

MmeLindor. Tue 06-Sep-11 12:10:29

Agree with MrsGravy.

He is too young to understand discipline. He is not screaming to "get" something, but in frustration and not being allowed to do what he wants. In about 3 minutes he will have forgotten all about it.

Distract, and take him away from really dangerous things.

ChunkyPickle Tue 06-Sep-11 12:22:59

Mine's the same - throwing himself to the floor, beating his hands, I hear 'WHHHYYYYYYY' in my head (not from him, he normally has his eyes closed, mouth open, in that so cross my body is completely tense and won't be able to draw breath until I turn purple and start sobbing style that worries his grandmother) all because I've taken the pencil away that he'd managed to grab off the table.

30 seconds later, after I've rubbed my head on his belly, or rattled something he'll be perfectly happy and giggling. I think they're all pretty mercurial at this age (doubly so when tired) and there's nothing really to be done until they can actually understand.

ikxi Tue 06-Sep-11 12:24:38

Are they really too young to know what they are up to? I have a 10 month old that does the same and i am very strict with him. He know very well that certain things are off limits and even tests my responses by for example walking up to the bottom step of the stairs placing his hands on it and watching me for a reaction. If i say no in a stern voice he takes his hands off, moans, and we repeat the process probably about two more times, then he moves on and plays with something else. My reaction to any major screaming fits are pretty similar to yours. I do find that the screaming and bashing his head on the floor gets worse if he is hungry or thirsty, and teething has definitely made him more short tempered, but on the whole i think the sooner they begin to get the message that certain behaviours are not acceptable the better.
I agree with PP that they cannot be in control of their emotions yet, and i offer lots of love and support when he needs it, but if after offering something different the screaming continues I completely ignore "tantrums" by turning my back for a minute and then turning back smiling and focussed on something else..
Everyone has such different ideas and ways of raising children that i think you do what you are comfortable with and what works for your child.

MmeLindor. Tue 06-Sep-11 12:31:00

Ikxi
He is testing you perhaps to see what he can and cannot do, and it is a bit of a game, like throwing something on the floor to see if mummy will pick it up.

But it is not a conscious thought process. They are not doing this deliberately, or with the intention of seeing how far he can go. At this stage it is still instinctive.

Children at that age don't have impulse control, they see something, they reach for it. You can tell him 200 times not to touch something, but the 201st time he won't remember you telling him.

happygilmore Tue 06-Sep-11 14:39:55

ikxi - he is 10 months old, a baby! They just don't understand - yes he is interested in your reaction, but seriously, disciplining a baby is not going to work.

Davsmum Tue 06-Sep-11 15:13:08

Your son is NOT too young to understand discipline. Of course you should be firm with him and sound firm in your tone of voice. That doesn't mean shouting or scaring him - it means saying NO firmly and if necessary removing him from whatever it is he should not be doing.

Its because people leave being firm over issues like these until a child is older that children progress to more unruly behaviour. It must be confusing for a child to have a parent who allows certain behaviours and then one day decides to 'start' disciplining.
It is possible to be firm AND gentle - but you have to be consistent - and what is not allowed today has to apply tomorrow too.

ikxi Tue 06-Sep-11 15:44:13

Thanks Davsmum! that is exactly the point that i was trying to make - rather more clumsily than you im afraid! I believe that if boundaries are set early there is no confusion later on when you expect certain behaviour from your child.
Babies understand things a lot earlier than i think we give them credit for. They might not have the mental or physical faculties to respond, but they do understand. I do think that there is a certain degree of "conscious thought" going on at this stage.
Example: Since Sam could crawl he has been interested in touching and playing with our cat. I am usually around to make sure that neither party hurts the other, but a couple of weeks ago Sam pulled the cat's tail while my back was turned and she scratched him. Since that day i have watched him (now walk) up to her and aim for her tail and without running away she just lifts her paw at him, and he then pats her head instead. (still rather hard and uncoordinated :-)) That does look like some kind of reactive behaviour to me.
As i said in first post - parents generally do not agree on this.

Davsmum Tue 06-Sep-11 16:00:58

ikxi, Of course babies understand things early. They learn what reactions their behaviour provokes. Its instinctive rather than conscious planning.
Why wait until a problem is established and then trying to correct it ?
Its much easier to start as you mean to go on and much less confusing for the baby/child.
Disciplining can be gentle but the word seems to provoke images of bullying !

ikxi Tue 06-Sep-11 16:16:03

I completely agree! I prefer to think of it as guidance. Discipline can be loving and caring even when you are stern. At the end of the day that is why we do it - because we love our children and want only the best for them. I explain - even though he is only 10 mths - exactly what my motivations are for saying no.

MmeLindor. Tue 06-Sep-11 16:17:25

"Its because people leave being firm over issues like these until a child is older that children progress to more unruly behaviour."

I do have to object to that. My DC are 7yo and 9yo and have not progressed to unruly behaviour because I did not discipline them at a year old.

Yes, perhaps it is the word "discipline" that confuses many as it seems to imply that the children are being scolded. But I abide by my statement that it is not concious thought.

Your DS recalls being scratched by the cat, so he is more careful. It is instinct rather than cognitive thinking.

Children of this age do not see cause = effect. If they did, they would not empty a cup of water onto their heads again and again. They do this to see what will happen, because they cannot imagine what the result could be.

Yes, take you child away from danger, and tell him that he should not touch certain things, but he does not understand yet why he should not poke his finger in the socket, he just knows that mummy shouts when he does this.

brettgirl2 Tue 06-Sep-11 16:53:12

To suggest that you can work to the same boundaries with a 1 year old as an older child is just ridiculous. The fact is that the expectations of the behaviour of an older child is different to a one year old. At that age you can only really worry about biting, kicking and leaving certain items in the house alone. That said they can understand the word no I think.

RitaMorgan Tue 06-Sep-11 16:59:39

I think with baby/young toddler - they just express emotion, they're not trying to manipulate.

When he screams it's because he's cross or frustrated that he didn't get to do what he wanted - it's not the same as a 3 year old who thinks "if I scream long enough she'll give it back to me" and maybe remembering "last time I really screamed and eventually she gave in" grin

So yes, keep them safe, take dangerous things away, distract and comfort - but don't get into a mindset that you are disciplining a naughty child just yet.

MrsGravy Tue 06-Sep-11 19:12:38

Nobody is saying you leave a baby to do whatever it wants but it would be madness not to differentiate between the way you deal with unwanted behaviour in a baby and a child. My 4 and 6 year old are not remotely unruly...my parenting has naturally evolved from distraction and removal to discipline and consequences as their behaviour has evolved. When my 1 year old tries to grab my sister's cat I remove her and distract her while firmly saying 'no'. The 4 and 6 year old get told that if they don't leave the cat alone x consequence will happen. It would be utterly ridiculous to adopt that approach with a 1 year old.

bclaremums Tue 06-Sep-11 19:27:11

Thank you everyone - this has been extremely helpful!

SheCutOffTheirTails Tue 06-Sep-11 19:29:27

"Children of this age do not see cause = effect. If they did, they would not empty a cup of water onto their heads again and again."

Actually, in the case of my 18 month old, I'm pretty sure it's precise the joy of spilling water over herself that makes her empty containers of liquid over herself time and time again grin

I'm impressed that you all seem to know so much about young toddlers.

I have no idea whether my pair will turn out to be unruly, but I've never seen the point of disciplining a 1 year old. IME 1 year olds are tiny, unruly, marauding monsters, in the cutest way possible. Maybe it's just my children, or my shit parenting, but I've had no success at all with telling them what is expected, however gently.

Davsmum Wed 07-Sep-11 10:20:57

Of course everything is age relative.A one year old does not understand the same as a 4 yr old etc !
Babies start learning from birth. They are not 'naughty' - I don't believe toddlers are 'naughty'
Discipline does not mean shouting at any of them.
You start to lay the foundations from the beginning. Its about guidance and teaching them to become decent, responsible human beings.
Of course a child will try to repeat things we do not want them to do - Its not naughty - and that is where consistency comes in - you have to remove them from doing whatever it is EVERY time.
Babies learn from US - they read our expressions - they learn more from what we do than from what we say.
A toddler is not JUST 'expressing' emotion when they have a tantrum - they are also trying to get what they want and to have control.
I think many people underestimate the intelligence and instincts of a child.

Discipline should not be a harsh thing - its loving and gentle if done properly.

OkiDoki26 Wed 07-Sep-11 11:53:55

I agree...babies and young children are not naughty they are learning all the time, it is up to us to guide them in the right ways.
Parenthood is easy if you go about it the right way - yes it takes a lot of time and patience but if we can't give these things to our children it is a sorry world we live in.
My children are young adults now and I am so proud of them both...they have been raised up with no shouting or punishments at all but I always had boundaries and if I said no I made sure that I stuck to it.
If you talk constantly to your children and explain the consequences of things they do understand but you have to start from birth...babies have the most amazing ability to learn...I taught my daughter the alphabet when she was 20 months old just by singing it to her every time I changed her nappy!
My main advice to new parents would be to have fun and laugh and play with your children and praise them all the time.....happy children do not normally misbehave.

Davsmum Wed 07-Sep-11 12:37:55

OkiDoki
I don't believe in 'punishments' the intention should not be to punish,..- more in 'consequences' which teach a child to be responsible.

cory Wed 07-Sep-11 12:55:29

I think the OPs approach- of stopping undesirable behaviour but not losing her temper- sounds like an ideal way of setting firm boundaries. Losing your temper at the slightest provocation is just another way of signalling to your child that I find it terribly stressful to have to deny you anything. Breeziness is often a good approach.

Not sure that happy children never misbehave, though: some children are quite simply headstrong- I know I was. I was not short of praise or love: I just wanted to be the one that made all the decisions and was never wrong grin And I liked making messes.

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