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Fearless 13-month-old - HELP!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My 13-month-old DS (adjusted age due to prematurity) learned to crawl up on the couch today. He was very proud of himself! The first thing he did when he accomplished this task was sit back for a minute like the king of the world and survey his new domain. The second thing he did was suddenly get up and purposefully hurl himself over the back of the couch, plunging head-first toward the floor below. I caught him halfway over and assisted his landing, but he became obsessed with this behavior for the rest of the day.

Up until now, we haven't had to say "no" to our twins. We've simply created a baby-friendly environment in several rooms of our house and they have been free to explore. And/or we will provide a distraction if they attempt something dangerous (like wrestling each other for a toy). But we're thinking it might be time to start setting some boundaries.

We obviously can't allow him to throw himself off the couch. Nor can I stand by the couch all day, poised to distract him if he attempts to do himself in (I need to be free to chase after his twin brother who just learned how to run!) For today, we simply moved the couch to a safe location (away from walls and other furniture) and put big fluffy pillows around the edges in case he tries it while I'm not looking.

But beyond that...I'm obviously new to the whole "discipline" thing. My questions: is 13-months too young to understand not to do something? And how exactly does "gentle discipline" work in this situation? How do I get my point across to him? I know my mother would advise me to look him in the eye, say "NO" in a stern voice, and remove him from the couch. I actually tried that a few times, but it didn't feel like he was understanding. He mostly just seemed frustrated and would cry in protest for a minute, then go back and climb up on the couch again. Is that just the way it goes with toddlers?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have.
post #2 of 8
It's probably getting to be a game for him at this point. Don't make it fun. Tell him that he can get hurt and that is why it needs to stop. Things are more fun when you don't know the reasoning for why they are wrong! Besides, by doing this, he has your undivided attention from his brother! I'm sure better GD mamas than myself will pop in here soon. Otherwise, good luck!
post #3 of 8
Sometime after DS turned 1 is when we first started telling him "no." Before that age it's completely useless (but don't tell DH's family that). Anyway...you probably won't want to do it but this is the time to use that ugly word. Save it only for moments like this when your little one could seriously hurt herself. DS would climb on our futon sofa that has wooden elbow rests so he'd have a great place to stand. The first time he fell off that thing I thought, oh good, now he'll learn and he'll stop that. NOPE. He just dusted himself off and tried again. I got to the point where I'd just "spot" him like a cheerleader in case he fell off. Which he did several times, leaving a bruise once or twice. Eventually he got to the point where he'd mastered that futon and he moved on to other fun and dangerous things. Like climbing in and out of his highchair when I wasn't looking.

THey don't really understand the word "no" but you need to show them what it means and after months they'll sort of get it Like if your baby is trying to put something in the wall socket gently remove them saying no. There's no need to be mean about it.

Oh and you may not want to ask other parents for advice. I made that mistake and everyone just told me to spank him. Advice I have completely ignored. One of my elderly neighbors told me to just spank him and then she told me some long story about how she probably spanked her kids too much. And I've always wondered why in the 5 years I lived next to them I had only seen the kids come home 1-2 times.

If it makes you feel any better, the other moms at playgroup are always impressed by DS' advanced physical skills at the playground.
post #4 of 8
the things my ds did at that age I don't want to remember but he did live through them all w/o broken bones and brain cells intact. no never worked for us, or not in time as now he understands and listens at 3. My serious ace in the hole was tears out of my eyes. We see the kids cry all the time but at least for us, mom crying is a very big deal. A few tears, a talk about how scared mama was about whatever they're doing and how I never want him to hurt himself cause I just love him soooo much... puts a seriousness that they can actually see and feel- granted I reserved this for only the really serious stuff- but it showed him how his actions truly do affect others


and to think I took college drama to escape from the real stuff
post #5 of 8
I don't think your mom is entirely off base here, other than the fact that kids usually find "stern" voiced funny, or giggle because they're nervous when you use them. But the eye contact (not in a menacing way, but in a 'being sure you have their attention' way) and repetition are your best tools at this age. That, and giving options for them to do instead of just what not to do.

If you don't want him on the couch, you're going to have to remove him every time you see him, and I'd recommend a bored, calm, but serious, "that's not safe, please stay on the floor." and repeat 7.2 billion times in the next 6 months.

Alternatively, if you're OK with him being on the couch but just not diving over it, I'd either try to find a way to move it permanently so it's backed up to a wall so he doesn't have the option, OR when he's on the couch say something like, "stay on the sittign part please" and then if he starts climbing to go over it, you say something like, "Keep your feet on the couch please!" while helping him down, and emphasize the point that so long as he's on the COUCH part he's fine to play, it's the climbing over it that's the problem. I had great success with saying "knees or bottom", while helping him do either, with our son to keep him from standing on furniture I wasn't OK with him standing on (i.e., dining room chairs) - living room furniture was OK with me, but not dining room chairs - and telling him what TO do was better for him than just what NOT to do. Again, you might have to do this a LOT dependingon his particular temperament and persistence, but that's totally normal for a toddler. Exhuasting for us, and I can't imagine having to chase around another same-aged toddler at that, so my hat is off to you!!
post #6 of 8
As the mom of a climber - I'd encourage you to teach the babe to safely get off the couch - and make this the focus of all couch-related activities until he gets it. I spent a lot of time saying "On your tummy, legs first!" and helping DS get on his tummy, hang his legs off the edge and scoot down. Afterall, if babe can get on the couch he needs to be able to get off the couch!
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by annekevdbroek View Post
As the mom of a climber - I'd encourage you to teach the babe to safely get off the couch - and make this the focus of all couch-related activities until he gets it. I spent a lot of time saying "On your tummy, legs first!" and helping DS get on his tummy, hang his legs off the edge and scoot down. Afterall, if babe can get on the couch he needs to be able to get off the couch!
What she said.

I've had three climbers, and I attribute my grey hairs to their antics!
post #8 of 8
I didn't read the other replies, but both my boys are daredevils. At that age, I pushed the couches against the walls. Then I removed the cushions and put them in front of the couches so everything was low and cushioned. They weren't able to propel themselves over the arms (yet) because without the cushions it was too low. We're on to bigger & more dangerous adventures now & the couch is no longer an issue (usually )

Now with dd I had the time to devote to teaching her couch safety at a very young age and she was able to climb up & down safely. But with 3 of them climbing around the house I find I keep my sanity longer if I just remove the temptation/danger until they mature a bit. Usually takes a few weeks/months.
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Fearless 13-month-old - HELP!