Stick to basics in the beginning.
Our children can reap what God intended from good habits, if, by the time our babies are crawling, we’ve had the pleasure of instilling good habits into them.
For instance, we know we should keep them out of the cooking area, so we train them to stay out. Sometimes this is the first clash of wills between the darling babe and the soft mom. It can seem like war, if Mom doesn’t know how to:
Train in Good Habits
In the beginning, for instance, we must teach a child what “hot” means, to fear when a thing is hot, and to trust our word on the matter. Use a hot light bulb and tell him “NO—HOT!” Act like you’re preventing him, but let him touch it briefly. Ask if he wants to repeat. If you see unwillingness, it’s a sign the child knows what you mean. If he cries, keep telling him it’s hot.
- Anger and yelling do not help; they hinder. Anger is for the devil, not for teaching; yelling is for long distance, loud environments, or extreme emergencies, not for teaching.
- Consistent firmness is the key. If you do not have time to be consistent, use a playpen or high chair to confine and thereby protect the child, or enlist a helper. “No” must mean “no”. If you are too lazy to be consistent, thinking about burn scars on your baby should help you feel stronger.
- You must not cave in to crying. Crying sometimes is a good way for a baby to communicate. Crying to get one’s way is bad. Do not teach the child that crying to get his way is good.
- Draw the line where you want, and make it stick. In our kitchen, one cabinet was permissible, but the rest of the kitchen was off-limits, during cooking. At crawling age, a child can grasp this.
Overcome Picky Eating Habits
We know we don’t want picky eaters and do want well-balanced diets, so we train them to eat. This can be another war, a bigger one, again avoidable, if Mom knows how to begin:
- Be sure you do not serve food your husband will not eat when he is present. Save it for when he is gone. Be sure he understands this is a time of training, both in obedience and in habit, and you need his backing.
- Make a new rule that every person will take at least a bite of every food on the table and eat that one bite all gone, no exceptions.
- Anyone who complains about one bite, gets two bites. This is all done very pleasantly, not in a way that causes mealtime to be a war.
- All food must be gone, not just pushed around, before getting any seconds or any dessert, again, all communication is friendly, matter-of-factly.
- The only consequence is no other food offered at that meal. Eat one bite (or two for the grumpy) of everything if you want seconds of anything. End of discussion.
You likely are seeking the next step, here, but that is all there is. This process, based upon natural hunger, applied consistently, teaches the child to like all foods and to clean the plate.
All their lives, my children were afraid around off-limits things and unafraid of green things on the plate. It was good.