You’ll have people giving you bad parenting advice all throughout Baby‘s life- it certainly won’t stop once Baby grows out of babyhood. There may be time, though, when it isn’t clear whether it’s time to stand your ground, or time to follow another person’s suggestion. You (probably) don’t know everything, after all, and your friend, neighbor, carpooler, or cashier in the grocery line all know what’s good for Baby – don’t they? The answer: not necessarily. Here’s some advice that you’re better off ignoring.
“Just this once…”
So your toddler wants something, and is whining. Loudly. Suddenly everyone around you thinks they’re an expert in how one more cookie is totally harmless or how staying up one more hour past bedtime is really no big deal. It’s annoying, but more than that, it’s frustrating. You know what Baby’s sugar high will look like, or how difficult it will be trying to get him to daycare on an hour less of sleep. The best thing to do in the face of the just-this-once brigade is to stay strong, and remember that you know what Baby needs. Don’t forget that his sense of security relies on being able to count on the limits that your family – and your family alone – sets.
Bribery as a lifestyle
This is a bad idea for both politicians and parents. Okay, so giving Baby a lollipop so you can have a moment of quiet while you finish your coffee probably isn’t going to get you impeached. But what it will do is set a precedent for Baby to learn that when he acts out, he will get a reward. It’s much better to reward the positive after it happens, instead of using a reward to stop the negative behavior.
“He doesn’t understand. You need to explain it better.”
While it’s true that sometimes Baby really doesn’t understand what it is you want from him, more complex explanations might still go over his head. This is especially true if you or he are emotional at the time. When you find yourself and Baby locked in battle, it’s usually best to use firm, succinct explanations to describe what you want from him. This will have a much stronger impact than detailed explanations of why you need something.
“What he needs is more limits!”
Yes, boundaries are super helpful. But think about the first time you learned all the rules of traffic. It was confusing at first, right? Baby needs time to learn how to follow the limits you set. If he begins to feel like he can’t meet your expectations, he may stop trying. When he has stopped trying to run down the dog with his firetruck, you can move on to the finer points of table manners. Everyone who sees Baby in public may think they know what kinds of limits he can understand, but you’re the one who sees him the rest of the time, and you’re the one who knows what he can process right now, so you’re the one who gets to set the pace he follows in learning about rules.