How to say "No" to your baby
Even before they reach the age of one, babies can already grasp what discipline means!
If you could, you’d give your baby anything in the world! But to discipline your baby, saying “No” before giving them positive reinforcement, is a great strategy. Mums and dads have you ever wondered, “Do I really need to discipline my baby before their first birthday?” or “how to say no without being rude?”
Did you know that your baby can already understand basic discipline even before they can walk or talk? To discipline your baby effectively, it helps to understand how their mind is developing in their first year.
Studies have found that even in the womb, children develop preferences for certain sounds. Once they are born, their first few days of life involves differentiating sounds. And also, quite charmingly, they can distinguish their mum’s voice as different from all other female voices.
When babies reach six months of age, they can already understand certain words like “yes” or “mummy.” And they can even meaningfully gesture toward certain objects.
Can you teach your baby how to say no without being rude?
At seven months old, children become intuitive, not only understanding your words, but comprehending moods as well. By the time they are nine months old, they can already grasp what “No” means.
Isn’t that fascinating? Even before they hit the much anticipated milestones — uttering their first words, taking their first wobbly steps — they are already processing information in their adorable little heads.
And it goes beyond just saying “No,” as your little one needs further reassurance. They’re still babies, after all! Though they might show signs of being smarter than average, they still need guidance and reinforcement.
But sometimes, it’s okay to say “No” to discipline your baby, especially when his safety is at risk.
However, since babies are great at mimicking their surroundings, we also have to be careful not to be rude or teach the child poor manners when saying no.
Repeat after us, mums and dads. “To discipline my baby, I just have to Remember: DAPCC…”
By the age of nine months, your fast-developing baby might be starting to crawl and reach for things. Aside from baby-proofing your home, here are ways to make sure to keep their behaviour in check.
Distract and then redirect
Your curious baby will tend to fixate on certain objects, like the television remote control. Instead of hiding the remote, why not give them an equally interesting alternative? An old remote with no batteries will keep them occupied.
You might be wondering, how can I discipline my baby if I give in to their every whim? They are too young to grasp punishment, so simply saying “No” and diverting their attention is often best!
Anticipate and prevent negative behaviour
In the same way that your baby instinctively knows how you’re feeling, you can predict their daily moods, too. Do they seem fussy and frustrated? For whatever reason — exhaustion or a change in routine — babies can throw a fit at any minute.
Put your little one down for a nap. Offer them milk or food (once they’ve started on solids). Do whatever it takes to keep them calm enough not to act out.
Praise and talk positively
When they follow your direction when you say, “No, don’t touch that,” shower them with applause and compliments. They might not understand what you’re saying just yet, but they can grasp emotional cues. Babies know when you are happy with their behaviour! This is also where you teach them how to say no without being rude.
Choose your battles
Don’t take disciplining your baby too seriously. Are they playing around with clean laundry? Or messing up your couch throw pillows? Lighten up and let them! Being able to express and pursue what interests them is great for their development.
Pick your battles, but of course you have to say “No,” when it comes to safety hazards in the home. This helps them remember what the safe zones are!
Consistency is key
Have they decided that hair-pulling is a way to say hello? More than saying “No, stop that,” try not to laugh or show that you find it amusing. (Even if it can be super cute!) Laughing or making light of it can make them feel that it’s okay to hurt others.
Beyond being an effective discipline tool, the word “No” will soon become a vital part of their development. By the time they hit the age of two, they can already say the word “No.”
Psychiatrist Paul C. Hollinger encourages parents not to take this the wrong way. It is a natural part of their development. In fact, it is a good sign that they are right on track when it comes to self-identity and self-expression.
But that’s a different battle altogether. For now, remember how to say “No” with love, mums and dads! From there, your baby should also naturally learn how to say no without being rude to others.