Thursday, May 15, 2008

Prevention

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Prevention is talked about it the Babywise series, but I wanted to heavily reiterate it. One ability I naturally have is the ability to really grasp consequences far into the future. I am always thinking about how my actions (or lack thereof) today will affect tomorrow, next week, and five years from now. My husband has often laughed at things I have asked him. While about 15 weeks pregnant with Brayden (our first) I asked him one night what our policy was going to be on our children finishing their food. I think he thought I was joking at first, but I wasn't. I wanted to know his thoughts so we could be prepared and be a united front when the situation presented itself before us. It was that moment that he really understood how far into the future I plan, and I really understood that maybe my planning tendencies weren't so normal. I thought everyone thought the same way I do :)

Quirky, different, and even strange as this practice is, it has proven to be invaluable to me as a parent. As I have thought it over, I think that practice and ability has had a huge impact on how well-behaved my kids are (knocking on wood :) ). Knowing my husband, I know that this is not something that comes naturally to all people, and can even be kind of difficult for some. I would say it is well worth any effort you need to give to accomplish this ability.

As I touched on in It's All About Perspective (http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/05/its-all-about-perspective.html), foreseeing effects of behavior becomes much easier as you have subsequent children. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Moms with experience really have a better grasp for how much early behaviors affect behaviors down the road. As a seasoned mom, you have seen it happen first hand. It really is surprising. First time moms can only go by faith that what other moms say is true--that is until their child becomes a toddler and they witness it first hand.

A bit of advice I would offer is to not allow behavior you can see yourself taking away several months down the road. That is the point of parenting in the funnel as discussed in the Babywise series. When a 6 month old blows raspberries for the first time, it is really cute. Even when you end up wearing the food all over you, you still want to laugh and smile. Picture that behavior at 12 months. It isn't quite as cute. Allowing behavior you know you will later deem as inappropriate will not only make it more difficult for you to train your child, it is really unfair to your child. No one likes having privileges taken away, and you really can't miss what you never had. Remember that teaching your child today makes it so you don't have to re-train tomorrow.

As an illustration, I will share something interesting about Kaitlyn's training times. With Brayden, it seemed I really needed to think about what I wanted to be okay and what I didn't. It also seemed like I did a lot of training while he was young. By the time he was a year old, he responded to my voice commands really well, but I knew I had put the effort into those results. As Kaitlyn approached a year old, I started to realize that we hadn't put a lot of effort into training her. I thought over the situation and saw that she just didn't do things that I didn't want her to do. I made it my mission to get working and worried about how this lapse in training would affect our upcoming toddler years.

Turns out I was wrong. The first time I consciously told her "that's a no" over something, she immediately left it alone and went to something else. I eyed her suspiciously. Upon contemplation, I realized we had been doing training all along. It has just become natural for me, so we had started it as soon as she started to do things she shouldn't. I never let behaviors get too far. I stopped them immediately. It is just part of being a mom with more experience. She has been easier to train simply because I started earlier and it is natural for me. Don't get me wrong, she tests her limits. She has those moments where she thinks it is really amusing for me to tell her no, and she wants to see if it is still a no (even though it was a few minutes ago). But our training journey thus far has been more effortless than it was with Brayden.

As I also said in the Perspective post, I absolutely love toddler years. Yes, we have had our moments of misbehavior that have left me frustrated, but overall we have just really had a great time. We have a lot of fun learning. Brayden (almost 3) helps so much around the house. He actually helps do chores (when he was younger, he tried to help but it was usually more of a hindrance to my progress. He now really contributes to the cleaning). We have as much fun as we do for several reasons, and they are all linked back to the training we did in our younger years. That doesn't mean training is over, not even close. We get to focus on matters of the heart and morals rather than worry about sleeping, eating, etc. Childwise really stresses putting in the effort and work early so you can relinquish that control to your child and let him govern himself. The longer you let mis-behavior go on, the harder it will be for you to correct it in the future.

I heard from a friend that in the Growing Kids God's Way classes (established by the Ezzos) they compare this idea to "credit card parenting." It is allowing misbehavior happened now that you will have to retrain later, but this retraining will be much more difficult because of the 'interest' that has accrued.

What is misbehavior? That is for you to decide. You make those decisions based on your morals, your culture, your values, your religious beliefs, your local law, etc. You decide what you do and do not want to allow. Chances are these decisions will be modified as your child grows up and you have more children. Your definition of misbehavior and freedoms allowed can and should be modified regularly as you evaluate how things are going and how you think they will go in the future.

Preventing misbehavior now is far easier than fixing it in the future. Just as we put effort into preventative maintenance on our cars, like oil changes, and our homes, like fixing potential roof problems before they become major issues, we want to put the effort into preventing large catastrophes with our children in the future.

7 comments:

Todd and Noelle said...

I appreciated this post and the one on perspectives! As a mom, I have to make a conscious effort to focus on things of eternal value, and not get caught up in missed naps, poor feedings, etc. (Although I believe a routine is important and has lasting consequences!)

Anyway, my 7-month-old is still doing a fair amt. of night waking, although every few nights we have a really good one. I haven't started CIO yet because we have all been under the weather.

As I mentioned before, he is generally a good napper, but if he struggles for a nap and I believe it is because he is overtired, I sometimes rock him to sleep. I assume if I am going to do CIO at night, I should not be doing this for naps, as it would not be fair to put him to sleep sometimes and then expect him to always do it himself in the night. I know from some of your other posts that you put your daughter in her swing after a certain point, so she would not get too ovvertired. My son is no way going to sleep in the swing! Does that mean if he cries for all of a naptime and then is overtired, he will do the same thing again, and then struggle in the night as well? Where does the cycle end? I would appreciate your thoughts!

Also, what would you expect from a 7-month-old as far as keeping naptimes consistent even when naps are varying lengths from day to day? I mean: is it a good idea to put him down at 8:45 am like usual, even if he woke up 1/2 hour early and talked in his crib? Or if I put him down early for that nap and so he wakes at 10:15 instead of 11, say, then do I wait until 1 p.m. for second nap, or do another early one? My problem is if I put him down early for both naps, he is melting down before bedtime, but he will NOT take a third nap...I've tried many times, and starting about 2 weeks ago, he just refuses! I don't want to put him down if he is not going to sleep...seems like a bad habit...

Sorry to have so many long-winded questions!

~Noelle

heather said...

My 7 month old daughter seems to be about a 10-hour sleeper at night. I usually feed her at 7:30 and put her to bed at 8. She's been waking around 6 am, which makes ten hours of sleep, but I would much rather her wake-up time be 7 am. It used to always be 7 am, but it seems that ever since we dropped the dream feed we have backed up a little towards 6. I really hate to let her cry for an hour that time of morning b/c it's been so long since she's eaten. I would put her to bed a little later, but we're usually pushing it by waiting until 8. Any ideas? What would you do?

Plowmanators said...

Noelle,

My son was the same way. He had to stay in the crib and cry until he fell asleep. They do get really tired, but at some point they learn and they get it and get caught up on sleep.

See these posts for waketime when waking early:

Waketime When Baby Wakes Early : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/04/waketime-when-baby-wakes-early.html

Waketime When They Wake Early: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/waketime-when-they-wake-early.html

Plowmanators said...

I would decide what is most important to me. If it was to make it to 7 AM, I might reinstitute the dreamfeed. If I wanted the dreamfeed dropped, I would try to get things on track for making it to 7 AM. To do that, I would make sure she is getting all of the calories she needs in the day.

See also this post:

Early Morning Feedings Before Waketime: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/early-morning-feedings-before-waketime.html

Todd and Noelle said...

Thank you for your response!

If I am letting him CIO at naps and in the night (when needed - sometimes he does go to sleep without crying), would you let him CIO AGAIN when he wakes with the 45 minute intruder? I know it is not hunger. Or would you just get him up and adjust nap times? I am wondering if I work on the falling to sleep at the beginning of the nap, eventually the naps will extend again, or if I am going to have to tackle the early waking with CIO as well?

Todd and Noelle said...

This question along with the one above:

Does is seem "normal" for a 7-month old to have naps that are all over the map? When my daughter was this age, she went down at 9 am and 1 pm, and that was that. William takes naps that are from 40 min - 2 + hours in lengths, even if waketimes are the same! So he gets tired and I am putting him down at all different times every day. He does eat, though, at very consistent times. What do you think?

Plowmanators said...

BW II does say to do CIO if your baby wakes early at your baby's age and you know he is not hungry or need anything else.

Once he gets better at soothing himself, he should be able to make it through the nap better.

A thought for CIO when waking early, I know women who have tried it at on age and it didn't work for whatever reason. Then it did work later when the baby was older.

Normal...there are babies who do it, but it isn't ideal. I would recommend this post:

Getting a Consistent Schedule: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/getting-consistent-schedule.html

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