As you read the title of this article that says ” How to discipline a one year old child” are your thinking – a one year old is just a baby! Isn’t it a little harsh to talk about disciplining a one year old?
No it is not a too strict or too harsh an approach. And this is easier to understand when we remember that discipline is NOT punishment. Discipline is teaching your little one the ways of the world.
In the first year of life babies are largely unaware of the existence of other people around them. As infants they only have the mental ability to think about themselves and their own needs. Their social interactions are also limited because they are largely restricted to the house and are mostly in contact with their parents.
But once they celebrate their first birthday babies start moving out of the house and interacting with other children and adults. At this time, as parents we need to begin explaining to them how to be considerate of other’s needs, how to respect other’s space, how to share , how to care and how to be compassionate. That is the real purpose of discipline and this should start no later than one year if you want your child to settle comfortably into the world of friends and acquaintances.
6 Changes you will Observe in Your One-Year-Old Baby
Your baby develops a will of her/his own
When babies come into this world they only know what they are shown by their parents or caregivers. So for example – you may have always fed your baby in any available cup – but suddenly your baby starts throwing tantrums about the cup she/he wants to be fed in. Is your child becoming obstinate or is your child spoilt? No. Your child has just begun to develop will. Your baby is suddenly able to distinguish between what she/he wants and what she/he doesn’t want.
Your baby’s memory improves.
As your baby grows her/his brain grows bigger and better. With a better brain and a better memory she/he is able to remember when they ask for something and it is not given. They also remember when something is taken away. And that is why they protest – sometimes very loudly.
Stranger anxiety sets in
Because your baby is able to remember more – she/he now worries about being alone or being with unfamiliar people. A 6 month old does not remember how long his mother has been out of sight and is content to play with a grandmother for several hours – a one year old remembers and recognizes that her/his mother is not around and begins crying immediately. The fear of being left alone makes your baby crave attention. Which may be a little inconvenient.
The ability to move around makes your child restless
By the age of one year your baby learns how to use her/his arms and legs to get around. Once your baby discovers that she/he can move around she/he is eager to move around and determined to explore the world by moving around. It is much more convenient to have a baby who will sit in one place and it is a little difficult to get used to get used to the inconvenience of constantly monitoring a moving baby, but you have to adjust.
There is mismatch between desire and ability
The world around is so exciting and interesting to your one year old. She/he can’t wait to see all the things there are to see, do all the things there are to do and meet all the people there are to meet. But, they don’t have the physical or mental ability to do all they want to do. Their hands are too small, their legs are not fast enough and they get tired so easily. And that is very frustrating and makes them throw tantrums and cry.
There is a strong desire to be independent
At the age of one your baby is looking for some independence. Your baby has journeyed from being a part of you (while you were pregnant) – to being inseparable from you while you were breastfeeding – and is now actually able to separate from you (because she/he is eating solids and can crawl). It is important to encourage this desire for independent existence and exploration because this builds self esteem
Your Role As A Parent Of A One Year Old
- Do everything to encourage independence
- Remove unsafe things from your child’s vicinity
- Ensure enough sleep and short frequent meals
How To Keep Your One Year Old Happy
If at the age of one year your baby is happy and contented – then disciplining happens smoothly. Here is what you should do if you want to keep your baby happy and content.
Ensure lots of rest
As eager and excited as your baby may be about exploring the world – you must remember that she he is still very tiny. Your tiny little baby needs lots and lots of sleep and rest. If your baby was sleeping 16 hours as a newborn, she/he still needs to sleep almost 14 to 16 hours even now. Crawling around tires the body and the excitement of discovering new things and new people, tires the mind. So ensure sufficient peaceful sleep.
Offer small meals frequently but don’t force feed
When your baby becomes a year old her/his speed of growing will reduce. This will mean that your child will be less hungry and will also require less food. Don’t fight over the quantity of food your child eats. If she/he eats less than before – allow it. Don’t force feed. Understand that your baby’s priorities have changed. From growing the body – she/he has shifted focus to growing the brain.
Also read – Why children don’t like vegetables and what to do
Give your baby lots of positive attention
Children thrive on love. Your approval and love is your baby’s oxygen supply. Make sure you do not cut off this Oxygen supply abruptly even when other tasks demand your attention. Every few minutes when your baby discovers something new and wants your approval smile and acknowledge the discovery and say a few words about it. And whenever your baby wants to be picked up – make sure your pick her/him up.
Make sure your baby does not get addicted to praise
Attention is good – but too much attention is very bad. Praise is good – but too much praise is very bad for your child. Don’t hover over your baby and constantly monitor what she/he is doing and keep saying “very good – very good” or something similar. A child used to this much attention will soon start throwing tantrums for attention and you will be in a situation where you cannot leave your child alone for even a little while. Allow independent exploration with intermittent attention.
Also read – Praise Addiction : real and dangerous for your child
Do not bribe and reward
It is a mistake to get your child to do things quickly and efficiently by offering bribes and rewards. Never fall into the trap of saying – “If you eat – I will give you the toy”. Very soon you will run out of bribes. And it will lead to tantrums.
Allow lots of activity and movement
Restricting the movement of a child who has the ability to move around is sure to cause rebellion. Make sure there is a large enough safe area where you can allow your child to move around and explore. Avoid places like malls where it may not be safe to let your child explore and where you will necessarily have to hold on to your child. At places like airports – try and find a space where you can put your child down and follow her/him around as she/he explores.
Do not fight in front of your child
At the age of one – your child has no idea what you are arguing about when you arguing at home. You may simply be yelling at each other because you are getting late for work. It may not even be a real fight – but your baby cannot understand that. All your baby really understands – is the raised voices and the angry tones. And this can frighten your baby. A frightened baby is sure to become clingy and cranky. So avoid that. Keep the house peaceful. Let your baby feel safe and protected.
How to Discipline your 1 year old
Avoid saying NO
Reserve your No for the times when your baby is doing something dangerous. Minimize the number of dangerous objects in your baby’s vicinity so that you don’t have to say no. When you say no – don’t keep yelling from a distance. Get up and remove your child from the dangerous situation. For example if your baby is trying to touch a table lamp – say “No don’t touch it” – you will get burnt. And then remove the lamp from the room.
Keep breakable and other dangerous things locked up
Remember that your baby needs to explore. The first year was spent growing the body. Now that your baby can move around – it is time to grow the brain. Keep the house free of objects that can break or cause injury. Take your child to the park or to the garden or sand pit for a few hours every day – so that she/he can explore at length in peace with you just following around for safety.
Stop fearing injury and infection
Many times we stop children from doing this that or the other because they will hurt themselves or fall sick. However, it is important to remember that falling sick and getting injured are important parts of the growing up experience. No matter what you do your child will get hurt sometimes and will fall sick sometimes. It is likely that if you overprotect your baby she/he will fall more often and get more infections. So allow your child the freedom to explore and get minor injuries and mild infections. It will make your baby stronger.
Also read – Your child needs germs to stay healthy
Stick to routines
One of the most reassuring things for your child is the presence of routines and consistency. In your enthusiasm to arrange play dates and trips and fun activities for your child – do not let routines go out of the window. Every activity – even a fun activity must be fitted into your child’s schedule without disturbing mealtimes, sleep times and alone times. One year olds get tired easily and extending fun outings or playtimes beyond an hour will cause tantrums. Your child is slowly getting used to the world outside the house. Do not introduce too many changes at once.
Have realistic expectations
Just because your baby can now walk and talk – do not start treating her/him like a 5 year old. Remember that your child is still very small and cannot behave the way older children are behaving. You cannot expect long periods of silence and long hours of sitting in one place from your one year old. Avoid taking your baby to places where you will be talking to another adult and your baby will have to sit quietly next to you. Understand that if you expect something like that – you will be disappointed and come back thinking your child is unruly. If you plan a long car drive where your baby is expected to sit silently in the back seat for several hours – you will certainly have a meltdown.
Do not get angry
Anger can never be silenced with anger. You cannot stub out your baby’s misbehavior with your loud voice or a slap. Anger can only be calmed down by compassion and understanding. When your baby gets angry or starts behaving in an unruly manner – calmly remove your baby from the situation. The best way to calm a baby down at the age of one year – is to remove the stimulation that is causing the bad behavior. If your baby is throwing a tantrum and misbehaving in a departmental store – calmly lift your baby and walk out of the store. Don’t expect your child to stop misbehaving inside the store because of your scolding. Don’t get angry – don’t feel embarrassed. No one will judge you for your baby’s misbehavior. They can see yow little your child is and they are not expecting adult behavior from her/him.
Make every scolding an opportunity to teach
Many times as parents when we are angry, embarrassed, tired and rushed – we scold our children in the wrong way. Our voices are loud and our words are harsh – but they don’t really convey any message. When you shout – your child stops doing what she/he is doing because she/he is shocked by your loud voice. But unless you actually tell your child what she/he is doing wrong and what should be done next – your child is unlikely to change her/his behavior and may do the same thing again – which will then make you label her/him disobedient. So scold properly and correctly. Don’t just shout.
Also read – Scolding your child? Make it effective
Set a good example
Children learn everything by imitation. They will shout and scream when they are upset if they see you shout and scream when you are upset. They will not listen to you if they see that in most situations you don’t listen. They will be disorderly and disruptive if they see you do that. Make sure you do not shout and scream in the house. Avoid loud arguments with your spouse. Listen to what your spouse has to say – listen to what your child has to say. If you are not going to do what your child or spouse has asked you to do – answer politely and explain why you cannot do something. If your child sees that whenever anyone says anything to you – you either respond by shouting back or by ignoring – she/he will learn to do the same.
Do not use “Time outs”
Time out is discipline tool in which the child is removed from a situation where she/he is misbehaving and asked to spend time with her/himself to realize what she/he was doing wrong. This method will not work here. When your child is misbehaving she/he is asking for attention – further depriving your child of attention by keeping her/him far away in a corner can only make things worse.
Do not try consequences
Consequences is another popular method of disciplining in which you explain to the child what will happen if she/he does or doesn’t do something. This will also not work in this situation because your child’s brain and memory is not developed enough at this stage to remember what will happen later and connect it to her/his current actions. Using consequences will actually end up being either a threat or a bribe at this age – both of which are terrible for your child.
Be consistent with discipline
Children get confused when one parent says something and the other parent says something else – so decide what you will say. If the rule is – “ No jumping on the sofa” both parents must enforce the same rule with gentle reminders. Also – the –same rules and behavior expectations must apply – whether you are at home or in a mall or in someone else’s house. If you allow behavior that is otherwise not acceptable – just because many people are watching – your child will soon learn how to manipulate you. Don’t buy your child that toy – just to end a tantrum in a mall. You are ensuring a tantrum for a toy every time you come to the mall in future.
Never hit /spank
Is it OK to hit or spank? No. It is not alright to hit. NEVER. Not even once. Not even a light tap. Not even the action of hitting without actually making contact. Hitting teaches your child that “When you don’t get what you want – you can use brute force to get it” This can have terrible consequences when your child tries to apply the same logic in school or with friends. You will soon have complains from everyone saying – this child hits a lot
Do not try to prevent tantrums by giving junk food
One of the common ways in which parents try to calm babies down is by offering junk food. Although chips, chocolates and juices may calm a crying baby for a few minutes – they will only lead to more tantrums in the future. This is because of the addicting property of sugars and trans fats. At first they cause a sense of well-being – but because of their addicting nature – they soon begin to cause craving leading to another tantrum. Giving more and more junk food makes your child a junk food addict and destroys her/his health.
Also read – My child demands junk food for meals. What should I do?
Do not use devices to calm down your child
One of the easiest ways to keep children disciplined and stationary is the use of devices. Hand your child a phone and she he will be immobile and non –disruptive for many hours. And this is technique most parents employ when they are in crowded places where the child may embarrass them by misbehaving. The first thing to remember is that moving around talking and making noise is NOT misbehavior. It is normal behavior for a 1 year old. Avoid places where you cannot allow your child to do that. Go to a park instead of a mall. In unavoidable circumstances like if you are at an airport – constantly engage your child with conversation and point out interesting things. If you keep your 1 year old entertained – she/he will not need to entertain her/himself and will not be disruptive and misbehave.
Also read – How to reduce screen time for toddlers
Do not throw tantrums yourself
Very often as parents we misbehave – we throw tantrums. And our tantrums are far more frequent than the one year olds. Don’t have meal time dramas about eating vegetables, snack time showdowns about drinking milk and bath time wars about playing in water. Understand what your child really needs and doesn’t and stop panicking. You cannot teach discipline when you are behaving in an undisciplined manner.
Also read –8 Reactions To Avoid When Your Toddler Is Throwing A Tantrum
Expect meltdowns – handle them properly
No child (or adult) can be perfectly well behaved all the time. Expect that your child will sometimes want what you cannot give. Will sometimes behave in a way you don’t like and will sometimes do what you don’t want her/him to do. At such times – respond calmly with the understanding that your child is another human being with wishes and desires of her/his own – not your puppet. Be reasonable and empathetic.
How to discipline a 1 year old that hits and bites
- Check is your child seeing someone hitting someone?
- Stop hitting your child if you are
- Teach your child more words – so that she/he can ask for what she/he needs instead of hitting
- Explain to your child – that hitting will not help because if he hits – the other person can hit back harder and finally lead to him getting hurt
- Find out why your child hits and remove that reason. There is usually a very good reason. Reach out for expert help urgently if you cannot figure out what is going wrong.
How to discipline a one year old that screams
- Stop screaming at your child
- Listen to your child so that she/he does not have to scream to be heard
- Teach your child some words or actions to help her/him ask for what she/he needs
- Let your baby let out her/his energy by playing outside in the park – so that she/he does not have to release energy by screaming.
How to discipline a one year old that throws food
- Give your child enough things to handle and throw
- Put your child on the high chair or any other high (safe) place from where she/he can throw her/his toys through the day. Children have an urge to throw. If the only opportunity to throw appears when your child gets food in her/his hands, then your child will throw food.
- Give small quantities of food so that your child does not get bored eating and begins to throw food
- Give only what you think your child will eat easily
- Explain to your child that food should not be thrown. Show her/him what can be thrown instead.
How to discipline a one year old who throws tantrums
- First remove all the physical causes of tantrums like less sleep, fatigue, hunger and over stimulation
- Communicate with your child. Don’t just talk. Listen. Children throw tantrums because no one listens to them when they talk normally.
- Give your child a lot of positive attention so that she/he does not have to throw tantrums to get your attention.
- Allow lots of space for your child to move around. Sitting in one place causes tantrums.
- When your child is in the middle of a tantrum don’t give in to what your child wants. Stay consistent. Just embrace your child and reinforce your love.
How to discipline a one year old who doesn’t listen
- Listen to your child if you want her/him to listen to you. If your child sees that her/his parents don’t listen when she/he is saying something – she/he will learn that it is OK not to listen.
- When you tell your child not to do something – also tell your child what to do instead.
- Speak in a calm composed voice. Loud sounds frighten children and they stop listening.
- Be loving and have an attitude of teaching about you when you give instructions. Don’t threaten or bribe.
- Instruct when your child is calm. It is useless to tell your child anything in the middle of a tantrum.
Always remember not to equate discipline with punishment. When you discipline a child – the aim is not to force your child to follow your instructions. The aim is to inspire your child to follow your lead