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“Somewhere around 9 or 10 months of age, children begin to get a better understanding of what’s off limits. . . Do not let him fool you . . . kids are so much smarter than we want to believe. ”

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understanding of what’s off limits. Most will understand the word “no.” An easy way to tell if he’s ready to learn is by the child’s response when he knows you’re watching him do something he shouldn’t be. Do not let him fool you into thinking he’s too little to understand. Kids are so much smarter than we want to believe. We currently have three children between the ages of one and five. Our oldest is a people pleaser. Though she tested the waters a bit as a baby, after one or two times of discipline, she was quick to respond to correction. Our middle child, a rambunctious little boy, is quite the opposite. He’s got a much stronger will as well as a heightened curiosity about the world around him. He feels the need to taste everything, take that where your imagination will. Our youngest is out to show everyone who is boss. She’s having to learn quickly the correct answer to that. A child needs to be house-proofed in his home before he should be expected to do so outside of the home. For example, when Tommy sees the remote in clear view, he goes to reach for it. Realizing what he’s after, you first tell him “No, Tommy” in a calm and controlled voice. If he does not listen, follow through with a reminder and a light tap on the hand. If he again insists, remove him for a moment and set him aside, preventing him from getting up. 22

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He’s probably getting pretty upset at this point. You’ll try again a few moments later. Instead of learning that the object of desire will be removed, he’s learning that he will be removed if he’s not obedient. There are certain things that we do not play around with. We installed locks on the cabinets; I don’t want Benjamin to try to drink bleach. Our electrical outlets are covered, and I’ve read duct tape works well when traveling. We keep our bathroom doors shut to prevent children from playing in the toilet and potentially drowning. There’s a gate at the top of the stairs. At the bottom, the stairs are blocked with a large pillow until the children have learned not to climb stairs without permission. We’re careful about choking hazards all around the house. The older kids know they are to help keep these hazards off of the floor and keep their eyes on the youngest as well. Are our kids perfectly obedient all of the time? No chance. But they’ve learned well from a young age, and it makes our vacations at Grandma and Grandpa’s that much more enjoyable. Terra Santos lives in Louisville with her husband James and their children Hannah (5), Benjamin (3), Sophia (1); baby #4 is due in December. She owns Joy: a bowtique. This is her first feature for Today’s Family magazine. 4 4 4 4 4 /todaysfamily 4 4 4 @todaysfamilynow

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