The boys were playing in my den which had bookcases which were at their level. As our son crawled toward a bookcase, I said, in my "stern Mom voice", as he and I were looking right at each other, "Don't touch those books. I'll put you in your play pen". He kept right on crawling toward it and stopped and look at me and smiled and resumed crawling toward it.
He was so proud of himself when he reached the bookcase and pulled a few off. He clapped! Oh heavens, sooo cute. But, I picked him up, said, "No books!" and promptly put him in his play pen. He melted down into a blob of tears.
My friend was appalled and yelled at me for being mean to him. This caused her son to cry. We had one yelling woman, two crying babies and a mother who insisted on establishing herself as the "adult in charge" and as "Mom, the teacher" which was going to be a lifelong, unpaid position.
My friend went on and on and on and on about how I was punishing my child. WHAT? "Listen, I know you're a lawyer, but this isn't about punishment. This is about teaching." She wasn't buying it and tried to save the imprisoned toddler.
This doesn't apply to infants. I don't care what your grandma or mother-in-law says, you cannot cannot cannot spoil a baby under the age of 4 months. Respond to their every need. This is their first experience with the world outside the womb. Your job is to make them feel safe and secure. Meeting every need lays the foundation for their ability to tolerate the disappointment and frustration that's just around the corner.
Children at this age have spent time both in and out of the womb learning language, at least the "rhythm" of language, which is known as prosody and the face of a familiar speaker.
While baby, at this age, does not understand words, he will respond to his own name and discriminate between basic emotions and people. He'll discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar people. He'll learn to respond with both vocalizations and gestures and he'll repeat and mimic because he now has more control over his body. He's able to recognize words and can stop what he's doing when he hears his name. He's likely to recognize the names of others and his dog and cat!
In terms of expressive language, right away, baby cries and makes noises to express emotions.
At 2 months, baby will respond to mother's voice and by 6 months, he'll make some sounds and will laugh "squeak", but will really belt it out if he's uncomfortable, angry, or annoyed.
By 8 months, he'll be babbling responses and perhaps, offer a few consonant-vowel-consonant words such as Dada and Mama. And yes, he'll begin to put together actions and reactions...cause and effect.
Babies also start to grab anything and everything in reach and of course, it goes directly into their mouths. I didn't wear earrings for two years and keeping my sunglasses on was a real challenge.
I learned that if my reaction to his grabbing at me and my things was one of "exaggeration", the behavior increased, so my response must have been a reward for him. I'm sure I made a funny face when I reacted.
I learned my lesson. He taught me well. When he grabbed for something, I took it back and gave him my "stern Momma"/face of disapproval and he cried. I didn't say anything to him, so his main source of detecting my emotion was gone. "WAIT! Where's the face?" I could just see his little thought bubble...
People around me must have thought I was "Monster Mom" when I did not comfort him when he was crying because I took something out of his reach. Those who saw the entire exchange gave me on of those "Sisterhood of the Motherhood" knowing looks as if to say, "Go for it or he'll own you". Yeah, copy that...
When their teeth come in and you're still nursing, they're going to bite down. Don't scream. I know it's shocking, but you can take it. Pull baby in close, he won't be able to breathe and he'll let go. Do not pull away which is not intuitive, so you have to prepare. You'll be sorry forever.
Keep at it. If you stay consistent, your child has a better chance of developing impulse control, frustration tolerance and the ability to cope with disappointment.
As a teacher, school psychologist, parent and human being, I cannot stress strongly enough how very important these three skills are going to be when your child is 25. Failure to develop these skills breaks people's lives and the cracks start to show early.
So, get in there and start teaching. Don't let anyone sway you. You and your child will live with the consequences.
Just do the best you can, TTFN, Claudia
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