At 4 months, what you want to be doing is starting the phase of ‘discipline’ that I call “show and tell” — it’s not a phase where you expect the baby to *do* anything at all. I mean that! And I know it doesn’t make sense to say “start discipline” and “the baby doesn’t do anything” when you are coming from a punitive mindset.
What “show and tell” means is that you are building the vocabulary for whatever you want him/her to be able to do without thinking twice once s/he is a toddler. You build vocabulary by saying a word and simultaneously doing that thing to the baby.
For example, when you say “Up” as you pick a baby up, that’s ‘show and tell’ — but of course, “Up” is not an instruction you want your toddler to follow later, so it’s not a good example of how ‘show and tell’ is a good start to good discipline. It’s just an example of the way that people naturally know that ‘show and tell’ is how you teach stuff to babies. It’s how they learn. That’s why it’s the method you choose when you teach everything, including when you teach the vocabulary you want them to grasp for following instructions. It’s a game. It’s no big deal.
At this stage you have TONS of time. Start by thinking and trying out what words you plan to use as your primary ‘words of instruction’. Once you’ve got them figured out, you need to *stop* using them as ordinary parts of chit-chat and *only* use them when you are going to be ‘show and tell’-ing. Your instruction words should be short and sweet. When possible, they should say what ‘is happening / what to do’ instead of ‘what not to do’. Try not to start with more than 6 to 10 instruction words. Select them carefully and always use them identically. (Many of these instruction words are going to sound like [Read more…]