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My daughter is 8 months old and I don't know how to react when she does something wrong. Lately she really wants to get in the dog food at Grandma's house. We can move the dog food when we're there, but I don't want to make a habit out of avoiding bad situations, I would like to teach her that we don't need to play in the dog food. So when she goes for it I tell her that she doesn't need to play in it and pick her up and move her. She just goes right back to it. Should she be understanding what I'm saying? I don't want to be like my sister screaming no at her children like they're dogs. How do you (and can you) discipline an 8 month old?
 

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Well, you have to figure out what's developmentally appropriate for that particular age. An 8 month old doesn't really know better, nor do they have any impulse control. So I'd focus more on avoiding the situation at this point. I know that's a pain in the butt when you're at someone else's house, but an 8-month-old can't be expected to listen and obey.<br><br>
Long tangent:<br>
Now, my 2.5 year old CAN be expected to listen and obey (though a two-year-old still doesn't have very good impulse control--it's a skill she's learning still). So now I am disciplining her, helping her to understand why she's not supposed to do something and helping her come up with ways to resist urges to do things she's not supposed to. Also, something good for all ages is to really KNOW your child and what will set them off behaving in ways you'd rather them not. For my dd, that's simply just to keep her well fed and well rested, because when she's hungry or tired she gets defiant. If we are in a situation where she's acting out because she's hungry or tired or whatever, I focus on correcting the hunger or tiredness instead of fruitlessly trying to discipline her, since she's so young and is still trying to develop self control.
 

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It was around this age that we started trying to teach our DD boundaries by engaging with her about what stuff she should not get into. But its a slow road and when she is bored this stuff is what she'll go to first (as a way of getting a reaction and attention). We would get eye level with her say "no touch" and lead her away by the hand (she had just started cruising and then walking), and try to involve her with another activity. She understood us, but as PP poster said no impulse control, so you might have to do this about a hundred times. I will say however that at 13 months now she listens really well for her age, if I tell her TO do something as oppossed to NOT to do something. Such as "put it back" or "close it" instead of don't get that or don't go in the cupboard. So although at 8-9 months it could be frustrating to do this, I think it helped lay the ground work for her listening now. BTW she absolutely LOVES "put it back" or "close it." She has started to "HELP" put things away in many situations, although often her help is more work- its lots of fun <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">.
 

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PP touched on this, but I'll mention it again. At 8 months (and I don't know when it stops) a child doesn't understand negatives. So if you say, "no/don't hit" what they hear is "hit". My dc are 22 months and I hear them using negatives so i think they understand now but I still try to phrase things positively. "be gentle", "this is for the dogs only", "let's play w/ blocks" etc. I have also found it helpful to have them understand "stop".<br><br>
But at grandma's house I would just put the dog food up. I don't think it is safe for a dog to be eating around a young child anyway.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>esaesa</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14707362"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">PP touched on this, but I'll mention it again. At 8 months (and I don't know when it stops) a child doesn't understand negatives. So if you say, "no/don't hit" what they hear is "hit". My dc are 22 months and I hear them using negatives so i think they understand now but I still try to phrase things positively. "be gentle", "this is for the dogs only", "let's play w/ blocks" etc. I have also found it helpful to have them understand "stop".<br><br>
But at grandma's house I would just put the dog food up. I don't think it is safe for a dog to be eating around a young child anyway.</div>
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Using negatives comes before being able to process them when others are using them.
 

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At 8 months (and beyond) it's a parent's job to prevent problems. I'm not sure why you don't want to make it a "habit [to avoid] bad situations." Avoiding bad situations is probably THE most effective parenting tool, even with older children-- even adults. You want to help your child succeed, not set her up to fail.
 

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Avoid, avert, redirect at that age. This <i>is</i> discipline. Removing the dog food is not going to set an unbreakable standard and I would not expect her to understand you nor be capable of exercising the impulse control necessary to not play in the dog food. Think of something that she <i>can</i> play in (could be similar to dog food) and provide her with it.<br><br>
It might help to reframe it this way: she has a need to explore and is not doing anything "wrong" in doing so.
 

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My DS loves playing in the cat food and water bowl and has since he was about 7 months or so. So, I moved them into the bathroom and then put a baby gate up with a space underneath so the cats could still get through. Babies will not understand what they can and cannot touch. We have to remove, remove, remove all those tempting things!<br><br>
Right now my livingroom no longer has a coffee table, any knick knacks, or DVD's in the cabinet. My kitchen chairs are all turned on their side. Why? Because my toddler wants to touch, climb, throw, etc. I leave out the "safe" stuff. Try it, it will save your sanity.
 

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We would remove them from the situation a 3-4 times saying it was for the dog. If they kept going back for it more than 3-4 times, we'd just put the dog dish on the counter.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Polliwog</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14707490"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Using negatives comes before being able to process them when others are using them.</div>
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Good to know, thanks.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Lexi_029</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14710593"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We would remove them from the situation a 3-4 times saying it was for the dog. If they kept going back for it more than 3-4 times, we'd just put the dog dish on the counter.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/yeahthat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="yeah that">
 

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I think the most important element in redirection is to provide a positive alternative, not just turn the child away from the negative. So when you move her away from the dog food, also hand her a toy and encourage her interest in it. She is starting to understand words, so rather than saying, "You don't need to play in that"--she probably feels that she DOES need to!--say something like, "That's Rover's food. Look at this fuzzy octopus! It squeaks!"<br><br>
Excerpt from the article "Impulse Control and Understanding Consequences" I wrote when my son was younger:<br><br>
Babies are capable of controlling some impulses, some of the time—they just aren't as good at it as older people. Babies are capable of learning that something they do causes something else to happen—they just aren't familiar with as many action-reaction pairs as older people, and they don't have as much logical reasoning ability. These are skills that develop gradually, so we can work to encourage them rather than assuming they don't exist.<br><br>
We never "babyproofed" our home. We wanted Nicholas to be able to cope with visiting places that aren't babyproofed (which happens a lot) and, well, we just have a lot of clutter! What we've done, as it comes up, is to move the things that either (a) he could damage quickly and we'd be really upset if he did or (b) he's consistently finding hard to resist. For example, our CDs were in both categories: the cases break easily when dropped onto a hardwood floor, broken cases are very annoying, and at about 10 months old he was taking every opportunity to go over to the CD shelf and take each one and glance at it for two seconds and then whang it to the floor. This fit both (a) and (b), so we moved the CDs to a higher shelf and moved the books that had been on that shelf to the lower shelf. We also have a few CDs on another shelf that's just above the arm of the couch. At 15 months, Nicholas learned to climb onto the couch and lean against the arm such that he could reach up to grab those CDs, but he was more controlled than a few months earlier: He held each one longer, then set it gently on the couch instead of throwing it. When we'd say, "Leave the CDs alone!" he'd put the one he was holding back into the shelf and smile and clap. We'd say, "That's right!" Impulse control! Following directions! But he was able to resist for only about two minutes before he'd be at it again. We'd redirect his attention to some toys, and we planned to move the CDs to eliminate the problem...but he lost interest in them after a month or so.<br><br>
With things that we don't move out of reach, we demonstrate responsible handling and lower our standards of neatness. For example, books: We modeled how to hold books and turn pages, naturally, because we read a lot. When examining a specific book, Nicholas imitated our behavior very well. However, he also liked to take books from the shelves and put them all on the floor as with the CDs. We'd say, "One book at a time!" and try to interest him in one that was already out. We'd encourage him to help put them back on the shelf; that sometimes worked! Mostly, we accepted that this taking-them-all-out was something he really enjoyed and that he wasn't doing much damage. We gave up keeping the books on the lower shelves in any particular order and tried to re-shelve them such that they fit tightly and were harder to pull out. We also removed the dust jackets from books that have them because they're so easy to tear or crumple. From the very beginning, it was rare for Nicholas to tear a book (other than dust jacket) but when he did, we made it very clear that this was unacceptable: "NO! We do NOT tear books! Oh, my poor book, all torn! Sorry, I can't hold you now; I am busy fixing the book. See, I have to tape the page back together."<br><br>
Another helpful strategy is to put some of his books and toys on the edges of shelves in front of our stuff so that when he starts to go for our stuff he gets interested in his instead. This also means that toys are handy from almost anyplace in the house we might be, enabling us to grab something when he needs to be redirected.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks to all of you, it all makes a lot of sense.<br><br>
The problem with moving the dog food is that isn't anywhere else to put it. It can't go outside because we live in Utah and it gets too cold. Our house is very open, so there aren't any rooms we can put it. I guess I should look into only feeding the dog at specific times instead of leaving the food in the bowl.<br><br>
I like the positive wording though. Right now when she gets into the dog food I explain to her that she doesn't need to get into the dog food, but it might be better to be more positive.
 

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I don't have a dog, but there are many dogs among our family and friends. Nobody keeps the dog food out all of the time. Usually the dogs are given a bowl of food and they eat it right up. The bowls might stay out but they are empty.
 

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We try to reserve 'no' for situations when there's danger, mostly. Like when DS reaches up to touch the stove we tell him 'no, that's dangerous' etc.<br><br>
We feed the cats in the kitchen, right where DS plays. When he was 8 mos old and started crawling he would get to the cat food and it would end up in his mouth so we just got into the habit of lifting it up off the floor when the cats weren't being fed. He was too young to really deeply consider his actions, so telling him 'no' would not really have an effect, he would still want to investigate the cat food the next time and it would still end up in his mouth no matter what (because everything did!). Eventually, after about a week or so, if the cat food was down he would crawl over and point to it and tell us to pick it up (like he would say in baby "the food is down mommy! it's supposed to be up there on the counter!"). Now that DS is 14 mo old it's a non-issue. He doesn't want to taste the cat food and we leave it down on the floor. Sometimes when there is food on the floor outside of the bowl he will toddle over there and pick up the little piece and put it back in he bowl. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Call it avoidance, but in my mind there's a lot of time to teach manners and right and wrong. Right now I don't see the point of teaching DS rules that might seem arbitrary to him (like he can eat bits of crackers but cat food, that tastes just as interesting and looks similar is off limits....). I don't want him to be nervous about exploring and I don't want to always be saying no, so we try to redirect as much as we can.
 

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They just can't help it at that age. With us, it's the cat food. I fetch my baby away from the cat food dozens of times every day. If it starts getting annoying, I put the cat food on the counter. It isn't something negative about her or something she can learn not to do at this age. The only choices are to move her or to move it.
 
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