I met up with a friend and her baby last week, and she posed a lot of interesting questions when she asked if I reprimand Cheech. "Well, yeah... I guess... sort of", was my unsure answer. The thing is, I do call her out when she's doing something she's not supposed to, or when she's acting in a way that she doesn't need to be acting, but I'm not exactly sure I "reprimand" her.
Now that she is an advanced crawler, Cheech wants to get into everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. There comes a point when there's only so much baby-proofing you can do. For example, we have an indoor fig tree that she loves, loves, LOVES to climb up on and start tugging at the branches or shoving her little fists into the soil. Sitting on the floor, the tree hits the ceiling, it would not survive outside, and we have no intention on getting rid of it. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure that would be the solution to the problem at hand, anyway. Cheech is at an age now where she is definitely starting to become cognizant of how far she can or cannot push us. I understand that she is nowhere near becoming an expert on the subject, but I do see those little wheels turning.
Instinctually, when I see her tugging on a tree that could easily topple over and land right on top of her, my natural reaction is to yell out, "NO". I tend to have the same exact reaction to things like her trying to climb up our heater or our oven. Not only do I have no intention on being the parent that's always shouting "NO", but truth be told, on the occasions that I have panicked and yelled out at her, she's typically reacted by going about her business with a big, fat laugh and smile on her face. I had read somewhere that the average baby will understand the concept of "NO" at around 6 months, but you cannot expect him/her to respond to it (properly, at least) until they're closer to 12-18 months. They're little explorers at this age, and in order to learn, they're, in a way, programmed to test us a bit. A little frustrating, isn't it?
I had also read in the same article that instead of always shouting out the "N" word, a good approach is to tell them why what they're doing/touching isn't for babies (hot/dangerous/yucky), and lead them in the direction of something that is for babies. I've been practicing this technique for a few weeks, and it seems to be working really well for us. She loves being in the kitchen with me while I'm cooking, and since we have a more open floor plan, a safety gate wouldn't work for us. Now when she starts climbing up the side of the oven, in a very exaggerated voice, I tell her that it's hot and dangerous, and I hand her some tupperware and a couple rubber spatulas. Don't get me wrong, she's no Baby Einstein and this is a practice that definitely has to be repeated again, and again, and AGAIN, but I think it's a step in the right direction.
What say you? Do you have any techniques besides the obvious "NO" that have worked well for your family? I'd love to hear them.