Gentry is officially a full 17 months old. Her ability to understand what we say FAR exceeds her ability to communicate. So many times I’ve heard parents say, “we can’t discipline him/her because he/she doesn’t understand”. I get that…to a point. At this age, would she understand if I told her, “Gentry! If you don’t go pick that up right now, you’re going to get a spanking…1….2….3!”? No…her comprehension just isn’t there YET. But…does she understand if she throws something, and I tell her, “No! Don’t throw…please go pick up your block.”? Yes, she understands that. I may have to repeat, “go pick up your block” a time or two, but she definitely knows what I’m telling her to do. She definitely knows what NO! means too. A lot of times, just telling her NO! will result in the super-dramatic meltdown…and yes…there are tears. There are ALWAYS tears. She’s had tears since the day she was born…a simple whimper drops a tear! Ha!
So you may be wondering…at this age…what do we do to discipline her? We know that she understands us, so a lot of the time we just have to tell her NO! Not only do I tell her NO!, but I also follow it up with the what… No! We don’t throw our fork. No! We don’t throw our food on the floor…if you don’t want it, put it right here (point to the table…and she will literally put it right where I showed her). No! We don’t kick. No! We don’t hit. No! Sit still while I change your diaper. I think it is VERY important to tell them the reason you’re telling them No! If you CONSTANTLY tell them no, without an explanation…it’s eventually just another word, and they don’t know/understand what they aren’t supposed to be doing.
Do we spank her? Sometimes…but it’s more of a swat. Usually, it’s on the hand if she’s trying to hit, or reach for something she’s not supposed to have. We always try to use our words first, and if she’s just not listening, then a little swat on the hand or her diapered bottom gets her attention. Does it hurt her? No! It’s more upsetting than anything, because she’s not getting to do what she wants to do. Most of the time, the swat is used to show her that something could cause her danger if she continues to do it. Like when she’s on the changing table…if she starts to roll, we swat her bottom. Why? It’s simple…if she were to keep rolling, she could roll off the table and hurt herself…by teaching her that rolling over on the changing table could cause her pain, she now knows to lay still while getting her diaper changed. Or reaching up while I’m cooking…a quick swat on the hand teaches her that she can’t touch the stove…once she’s older and can reach a burner on accident, she could severely burn herself. So yes, we swat her, and I promise, she understands far more than some people give their children credit for.
How do I know she understands me? Watch this video:
She’s been throwing her diapers in the trash since she was about 1 year old. If you tell her she needs her shoes on to go outside…she’ll find her shoes and sit by the door and wait. If you tell her let’s go take a bath…she will literally climb all the stairs and walk straight to the tub. Let’s go get your milk…we’re at the fridge.
Comprehension FAR exceeds communication! We’re so proud of her and continue to talk to her constantly. Talking IS teaching!