Should I Discipline My Cute Little Baby?

We do.

We have disciplined Abe since birth. Right now, Abe is about 9 months old and he has learned new things every week since he was born. Why NOT train him? He is definitely learning something! It might as well be to do right.

Now, do we have all-out spankings and full conversations about what he did wrong and how he disobeyed God?

No. He can’t even speak English yet. Dadadada and Mamamamama and gamamadadagaga are his only words so far.

But hey… we figure that if he can learn how to nurse, how to roll over, how to pick up food and how to use a sippy cup he can ALSO learn how to keep his hands off Dad’s computer, how to control his temper and how to stay seated in his high chair.

I have only been at this a few months, but I have learned that training takes a lot of time. You think he’d get it! It takes so long!

Mom had him in the doctor’s office the other day and his bed was right by the vertical blinds. He reached up to grab one and she told him “No.” and moved his hand away. Immediately after that, he reached right back up and tried to grab it again, so again he was told, “No” and his hand was moved away. He reached right back toward the blinds and when he did, he got a little flick on the back of his hand, just enough to shock him but barely enough to make him cry.

He gazed up at mom, shocked! “Mom! Did you see what you just did to my hand? I’m sure it was an accident. I’ll forgive you this time. Now, it’s time for me to grab these blinds.”

Mom said, “No.” and flicked his hand again.

“Ouch, Mom! That hurt! I can’t believe you did that. Now I must touch these blinds! I’ll fight through the pain!”

So he got another little flick. He’d cry from the shock and pain but reach right back for the blinds. Over and over. Jamie said that he did it no less than seven times in a row! 

At this point there are a few different sentiments from parents. Some parents say, “He’s too young to understand what you’re doing. He doesn’t get it. Take it easy.” Other parents say, “Man, that kid’s dumb!”

I don’t think we should take either extreme. On one hand I can definitely lean toward the one who says, “Man, kid! Just stop reaching for the blinds! Don’t you get it?! I’m going to make this hurt more and more until it clicks with you.”

Well, obviously there will be limits at any age, but I also don’t think a cute little baby is totally clueless about discipline. My son is really getting to know exactly how far he can go, and he is learning. After the seventh time in a row he realized that he did not have a great game plan going, so he gave up, dejected. He started to reach for it, remembered what it felt like, pulled his hand back and just started fussing. “Oh woe is me! I can’t touch that enticing vertical blind hanging right beside me. My life is rough.”

Poor kid.

But he learned. As a 9-month old.

Discipline will be different with each kid, for sure, but it should never be absent. I am convinced from others’ examples that if you are consistent with your kids and loving in your training, everything works out fine. That’s what I’m trying to put into practice, and it’s starting to work. Cool!