How Young is Young Enough?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

We see that little baby born and think he/she is so innocent. How could anybody that tiny and cute ever do wrong? It does not take long before we begin to see that sin nature come out. We wake one morning and our darling is now throwing temper tantrums, slapping, biting etc.

I realize that babies bite when they cut teeth or that they can't express things and it is frustrating, but I am talking about the rebellious times. You say no and they do it and scream at you. For some parents the terrible twos start at 6-8 months old!

What are we to do? How much do babies understand?

I am always amazed when parents, or many grandparents, think a baby can't understand or know, and then wonder why they turn into such a hard to manage child. Babies understand more than we give them credit for much of the time. I have some suggestions to help you understand your child and for you to know when your child understands what is being said.

  • From the beginning, talk to your baby. I do not mean "baby talk" I mean really talk. Tell them what you are doing as you are doing it. ( I am making dinner, this is a tomato and I need to cut it) etc. I talked about everything like they were understanding. As long as they were awake in the food store I talked over the shopping, showing them things. I had my granddaughter in the food store when she was about 3 months old and was telling her everything as I walked up and down the isles. One woman was watching me and finally said something to me about how much fun I made shopping for my granddaughter. She had not seen anyone do that before and saw how intent Scout was as I shopped. She is now 13 months old and we shop the same way, but now she knows what I buy and will point to it.
  • Do not talk "baby talk". They will not learn to express themselves right it we talk wrong.
  • If they get hurt, tell them what happened. "You tripped on the dog" as you are hugging them. If it was something they were not supposed to do, tell them. "We never touch the oven door, it is hot".
  • Tell them "no" when they do something wrong and be persistent. Remove their hand and say "no" as you are doing it.
  • Say "yes" and "no" to them. It takes little time for them to know the difference, usually a baby will know about the time they begin getting into things! You say "no" remove the offending item and replace it with a "yes" item and they catch on.
  • If you talk to them they will understand words like "shoe", "head", "hurt" etc and will be able to in some way express things. They other day my 13 month old granddaughter climbed on the couch (something that is allowed) and then hit her head on the wood between the windows. I did not see this, but she cried loudly as she hit and I ran to her. I hugged her and asked her what had happened. She took her head and put it against the wood between the window and bumped it. I then said "Oh, you klunked your head" and she shook it yes. I then held her and talked to her about the hurt. At13 months she also told me her shoes hurt her. I put on her sneakers and she put her hand on her toes and said "ahhhh soose" The "ah" was a hurt "ahhh". I took them off and thought her sock must be folded or something, fixed the socks and then put the back on. She complained some more and finally I looked inside and saw her toes were rubbing on the top of the shoe!
  • Pay attention to them. So often we get to talking to our spouse or another child that talks and we do not hear that they are telling us something. It may be good, may be bad and may be a rebellious "no".
What do you do when they persist in the "No no's" or in tantrums?

Tantrums are to be ignored. Much of the time, if right from the beginning, you ignore it they will not last long. Sometimes you get a persistent one that when you leave the room they follow and throw it in the room you are in. Yeah, I had two like that! You just move to another room and continue to ignore it.

Two of my daughters would sit on the floor and spread their legs out and bang their head on the floor between their legs. I wanted to laugh at first! It was so funny, but they were persistent and followed us room to room as we ignored them. It stopped and all we did was not give them the attention they were trying to get.

The deliberate disobedience of doing something you are telling them "no" about is something different. To handle that it means being firm and being consistent. This is hard if you are like me, sometimes they are so cute or so funny, but it is important that you nip it as a baby.


  1. Tell them firmly
  2. Remove their hand or the object
  3. If they go back to it, repeat the procedure
  4. What? They are still doing it? Believe it or not, they will! A tap on the butt with a very firm "no" is usually enough if it is started early enough. Remember, they have diapers on and you are not hitting hard, just the startling of the tap will usually stop it IF YOU START THEM YOUNG ENOUGH! (from experience, do not hit their hand. They will learn if you do not like what they are doing they can hit your hand!)
How young is young enough? When you can see that they are disobeying they are young enough for discipline.

God expects us to raise our children to be obedient and well behaved. Sin shows up young, very young, yet parents wait too late to start trying to deal with it. Nip it in the bud and it will not flower.


Mrs. C said...

I have a 12-year-old on the autism spectrum. He STILL has very bad temper tantrums. I'd advise parents that if they think their children should have outgrown a phase, or the child is having too many tantrums or the tantrums just seem "too intense," to get their children evaluated. SOMETIMES it's not a parenting issue.

(Most of the time it is, though, in an older child.)

Email Me