Should infants be disciplined?
You know, there are those days when your infant seems stuck on doing exactly all the wrong things, leaving you close to the boiling point of frustration. To make matters worse, he keeps smiling through all the drama and you begin to wonder whether or not he understands what’s going on and is simply choosing to ignore or frustrate you.
During such moments, I’ve observed two common kinds of reactions from different moms. Some mommies insist, ‘Just leave him! He doesn’t know what he is doing’. The second insists, ‘Look her! Look at that smile! Come on, she knows exactly what she has done. These children are way smarter than we realize. Way too manipulative. She definitely did it on purpose!’
At some other times, when these little ones decide to ‘display’ in the company of people who are not family, you see mommies turn red in embarrassment. You know those moments when mommy’s friend offers him an object to play with and immediately, he slaps it out of the friend’s hand because he would rather have her phone instead. Or mommy’s friend’s child tries to be nice to him and he chooses to reward her with a firm bite into her skin. Or the lady sitting next to you tries to be friendly and he decides to reciprocate by suddenly grabbing her eye glasses carelessly.
These infants then turn into toddlers and with a rapidly growing vocabulary, they create far more embarrassing moments – Screaming ‘NO’ defiantly into your face and running off. Refusing to share with your neighbor’s child. Keeping her mouth firmly shut when you ask her to say thank you to ‘aunty’ for buying her biscuits. Or maybe screaming ‘leave me alone’ to the nice, old lady who was only trying to friendly. Or screaming ‘I don’t want’ when you try feeding her in the company of guests. Or defiantly crying and screaming that you buy her that ‘sweet’ or else risk having to drag a wailing child out of the supermarket.
In such moments, some moms engage their children in these embarrassing ‘battles’ that leave you wondering who really is the mom here. Some other moms, not wanting to create a bigger scene, allow the child have his way and then apologize on his behalf. At other times, when it involves a physically reckless action, some mothers of boys laugh it off with this excuse – ‘You know how boys are!’
So my question is, could toddler indiscipline have been curbed at the stage of infanthood? Do you believe that at 6 months, your infant is already wise enough to differentiate ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ and is therefore ready for disciplinary actions? Are you of the opinion that all children (including infants) are just plain, old manipulative and must therefore be put in order? Do you believe that the type of ‘discipline’ or ‘correction’ the child receives depends on his age? How did you practically handle your own child? Or are you right now, at that place where you’re wondering what exactly to do? We will love to hear from you!
N.B. Watch out for our next post when we will sharing our views from a professional but practical point of view