I came across these words earlier this morning, taken from Caring For Your Baby and Young Child, Age 4mths through 7mths chapter.
When you finally begin to discipline your child, it should never be harsh.
Often, the most successful approach is simply to reward desired behaviour and withhold rewards when he [sic] does not behave as desired.
For example, if he cries for no apparent reason, make sure there's nothing wrong physically; then when he stops, reward him.......If he starts up again, wait a little longer before returning your attention to him, and use a firm voice... This time, don't reward him with extra attention or hugs.
Well! Firstly, "begin to discipline". At 7 months of age? Isn't a baby still learning to trust and explore?
"Reward and withhold rewards". Oh boy! Withhold attention and love at this age? But here's the real doosie, "cries for no apparent reason". The authors seem oblivious to their own admission that the reason the child cries is not apparent. That means, WE don't realise what it is. It does not mean that there is no reason.
I see any tears at this age as totally acceptable. I've heard people say, "oh, he's just looking for attention". But what they fail to see is that attention-seeking is a valid reality to a child. Boredom, frustration, or even I'm-not-sure-what's-bugging-me moments are all valid.
Don't misunderstand, I'm not rushing to my little one's side. But I am there letting her know that I will never ignore her.
Yes, I am a guide to her. So I guide her with body language that there are peaceful ways to communicate, because she needn't feel anxious or stressed, or believe that crying is the only way to acquire attention. This is for her benefit. To share with her a peaceful way of being. Not a way for me to modify a behaviour that feels unacceptable to me.
Okay, next bit,
...help him understand exactly what he's doing wrong when he breaks a rule. If you notice him doing something that's not allowed, such as pulling your hair, let him know that it's wrong by calmly saying 'no', stopping him, and redirecting his attention to an acceptable activity.
Saying it "calmly" makes the whole premise sound alright doesn't it?
When the Wildflower has pulled my hair, I have smiled at my baby's desire to connect with me, her desire to explore her world, her wonderful eye and hand coordination, and at knowing she is normal and happy.
So here we come to my main concern, is there such as thing as wrong behaviour with babies?
Is pulling my hair 'wrong'? Or is it normal and acceptable as a behaviour in itself, that I might not desire?
If the latter, then there is no need for wthholding attention, stern looks, or being firm with her. I simply wear my hair tied back, or gently pry it out of her little fingers, or accept that a few hard tugs are part of life with long hair.
It all comes down to perception. If I perceive my baby's behaviour as 'wrong', then how I view her, what stress I feel, and how I treat her will all be affected by that perception. If I do not perceive that there is the possibility of wrongness in her at this stage, I subsequently view and treat her very differently. And I experience less stress myself.
I have a friend who perceives her son's boisterous behaviour as 'naughty'. I perceive it as normal toddler behaviour. What matters is that her perception influences how she reacts, which is usually with stern disciplinary action that is followed by exasperation and frustration by both of them. They are both lovely, yet don't experience each other as such.
We convince oursleves that what we perceive is Reality, that it can't be experienced any differently because it simply Is. Knowing that we can change our perception is to me key in experiencing happy and stress-free relationships with our children.