Yes, we are still going through this book! I am looking forward to getting through to the end of it, though, because I have another book I really want to delve into on this blog (a surprise! )
Today’s chapter is Chapter 7: Discipline Tools for Baby 0-1 Years: Attachment. It seems difficult to some of us that we need to even discuss “discipline” of this first year of life, but since a 1994 Canadian study showed that 19 percent of US mothers spanked their children under one year of age, I guess that we must address this. There is also an attitude, at least here in the United States, that an older baby could be “manipulating” a mother by his or her behavior (this one baffles me, but I hear it a lot in mainstream parenting circles, so I thought I would throw it out there!).
Author Judy Arnall writes: “We discuss discipline tools with a baby for two reasons. First, the baby year is a time for bonding, attachment and relationship connection; a solid concrete foundation that effective discipline is built upon. Also, the literal interpretation of the word “discipline” means to teach. We “teach” babies from the moment they are born, by our responsiveness and nurturing, that they are loved and cared for.”
An older baby is mobile and yes, often “getting into things”. They are gross motor driven. They cry and fuss to make their needs known. They may cry and you may not be able to uncover the reason at all. They sleep, they make a lot of noise (screeching, gurgling, cooing, babbling, repetitive syllables). They look at things, they explore things and put things in their mouth to taste them and explore them. They also IMITATE YOU.
Judy Arnall also reminds us of the stranger anxiety many babies experience at around eight months (usually 8 to 15 months or so). Do not expect your baby to be happy to go to and with just anyone! Ten months is the beginning of separation anxiety and they do not want to leave their main caregiver. Separation anxiety can last throughout the early years, the baby has an intense need for his or her mother throughout those years. If you meet his needs to be dependent upon you, he will feel much more secure!
The best discipline tools for a baby are BEING RESPONSIVE when a baby cries, to hold, sing, speak, love your baby with gentle words and gentle hands. Author Judy Arnall lists the discipline tools for babies as being PARENT time-out, fulfill the baby’s needs, learn about child development, substitution, supervision, prevention, redirection, change environment, distraction, spending time together, parenting problem-solving, holding, hugs and cuddles. She also adds using active listening and I-statements. I guess these tools could sound very radical to a parent who has never heard of them or knows no other ways. Sometimes these things don’t actually come naturally to parents. This chapter gives great examples of each of these things.
One thing the author reminds us is that up until age TEN, children need constant supervision by an adult who is engaged with them. She also writes about the importance of prevention: if your child is doing something due to a developmental phase, have a plan as to how you will respond to it in the future. She talks about saying positive things to your baby, such as “I love you!” “I am so glad you are mine!” I like that idea of that warmth and joy and love! So, stop complaining and replace those complaints with positive thinking and positive things to say to your child!
She writes an entire section on sleep issues and how a one-year-old has a very limited memory and almost no cognitive reasoning skills so therefore a baby cannot “manipulate” you regarding sleep. She writes about the dangers of “crying it out” which I whole heartedly agree with. She also writes strongly about how the first three years of a child’s life as critical for developing trust in an adult caregiver, and how it is important to respond to your child. This is important, even at night! Parenting does not stop at nighttime!
She asks readers to “reconsider co-sleeping” and talks about how to make a safer family bed. I completely endorse co-sleeping if that works for your family and have written a post about it here a long time ago: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/16/co-sleeping-and-nighttime-parenting/ . The Dr. Sears books also talk in depth about co-sleeping. Co-sleeping does not always mean sharing a sleep surface. For example, it can also mean a sidecar approach with a crib or co-sleeper, or putting your king sized mattress on the floor so no one can roll off or having a bed in your room for your children. There are many tips for safer co-sleeping on the Mothering Magazine website, Dr. Sears website (here is just one example of talking about safer cosleeping on the Sears Family website: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp) and in many books. Check it out and devise a plan that works for your baby and for your family.
This chapter talks about many ways to soothe a crying baby – go through your mini-checklist: illness, food, diaper, gas, clothing tags, too hot/too cold, is the baby just waking up and really needs to go back to sleep?, try motion, try white noise, try babywearing, swaddling, rocking, humming, check and see if baby is overstimulated and really just needs a dim, quiet place to calm down.
She talks about colic, about parents taking a time out, about parental actions that build a child’s sense of security. She has a whole section on marriage and how having a baby affects marriage and tips for that season in marriage.
I recommend this book over and over, and over. Here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Without-Distress-responsible-punishment/dp/0978050908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269482616&sr=8-1