“Should we give our child everything he asks for?” How can we teach a young infant the concept of “no”. It is important to learn this concept as the child enters their second year of life. The parents of a 9 month old need to become the moral compass and authority for their child.. During the first 9 months of an infant’s life, parents appropriately focus on nurturing their young child and we all support this role. As the infant matures, the needs of the child change and the parent’s role should transition to include that of teacher.
Most child psychologists agree that children develop best when parents provide consistent limits and act as the authority figure in the child’s life. The way the child responds to parental authority will often predict how the child will respond to authority in all other arenas of life: at school, at work, and in society. Unfortunately, too many parents are hesitant to tell their children “no”. Too many parents today believe that it is their responsibility to make their children happy, but in reality it is the parent’s role to instill positive character traits in their children so that they will grow up to be self-controlled, self-sufficient, caring adults.
The five “Ds” that help a child learn the concept of “no”:
Determine the rules: The parents need to be the adults in their child’s life. If the child’s behavior is annoying, it should be discouraged by using the word “no”.
Demeanor changes: Infants and young children pay close attention to the parent’s face and tone of voice, responding more to parental demeanor than to words spoken. The parent’s face should be very serious and the voice lowered. “No, no honey” in a high pitched, sweet voice is actually communicating that it is OK to continue the activity.
Displace the infant: Usually, safety is a concern. For instance, an infant who is crawling too close to a hot stove is reprimanded. After the parent states a firm “no, the oven is hot” the infant is immediately removed from the area.
Distraction: Now that the child is in a safe place, the parent can distract the baby by offering another item to play with.
Diligence: Children learn from consistency; and this is the most difficult aspect of parenting. Consistency allows children to predict consequences of their actions. Young toddlers, however quickly learn that they can wear down their parents if they persist in begging, whining or pleading. A mature parent is able to withstand this childish behavior.
When a parent says “no” to a child’s behavior, that child needs to learn to stop the behavior. A child’s ability to stop one behavior and begin another is an important task that allows new neuronal pathways to form in the toddler’s brain. A possible explanation for of a 5 year old throwing tantrums may be that the parent never placed limits on the toddler’s behavior.