5 Proven Baby Discipline Rules
The Schamel Family is a not-so-small family (twelve children) who are also business owners, yet are very passionate about children and families. As volunteers, they operate the Buildings for Babies Ranch where where they run Christian family “boot camps”. We have been to two of these. Not only are they a fun time, but Dale Schamel has some phenomenal lessons and Biblical resources that have had an impact on me and my family. If you have sons then they will also enjoy working the ranch with their dad alongside Dale and his boys.
I recently reached out to Dale to see if he wanted to do a guest blog, and he graciously agreed. These are his five baby discipline rules.
1. Start Discipline at 8-12 Months
We have learned that babies really start comprehending what is going on around them at a very early age, and usually around four to six months. By eight to nine months they can crawl or start to walk. They also understand many of the basic words and commands such as “Daddy”, “Mommy”, “hi”, and many others.
For training, we start with simple commands like “come to daddy”, “lay down”, “thank you”, and simply “no” and “yes”. Most parents wait too long to start teaching their babies, and many wait until they are three to four years old and out of control before they start trying to stop actions, which by then have become habits. If our babies do not obey the commands within three requests, they get a small but firm pat which communicates that the line of discipline has been crossed. We are very consistent.
Since they can understand words but haven’t developed the ability to say the words yet, we start teaching them basic sign language so they can effectively communicate these words with you.
2. Use the “Snap, Pop” 3-Strike Rule
As mentioned above, we use a three-strike rule. We ask in a normal tone of voice the first time, a soft but firmer tone the second time, and a louder and firmer voice the third time. However, along with the voice inflection, the third request is immediately followed with a snap of the fingers and a firm pat on the bottom that “pops” on the diaper! Even though the baby can hardly feel it, the snap and pop gets their attention and communicates that “pop”—discipline—follows the snap and firmer request. My older children still stiffen and become alert today when they hear the snap of my fingers.
3. Discipline Attitudes Before Actions
So often we see a young child in the grocery store throwing a fit, even rolling on the floor and yelling, with a totally embarrassed parent standing nearby. This is a result of not doing numbers one and two above, but also not correcting poor attitudes before they become poor actions. Even with babies at six to nine months, you will see them defying and challenging you as the parent. Start the discipline at an early age, and by using the snap and pop rule you can teach a baby that the attitudes will be disciplined before they ever learn that they can control the parent through violent actions in public.
4. Correct at the First Offence
Training children is a lot of work and it takes a real dedicated parent to train well-mannered and respectful children. If we aren’t constantly observing their behavior, our sin nature naturally takes the child down the wrong attitude or action road. They will test the boundaries and the consistency of the correction. As a result, don’t wait for them to use the three strikes without correcting at the first offense if they already know it is wrong. If the child knows it is doing wrong, we don’t give them three strikes but correct (snap and pop) at the first offense.
5. Dad Stops to Correct
Just like the child throwing a fit in the grocery store, children need to learn that correct and polite behavior is the only behavior that is tolerated. Too often we hear a parent telling a child over and over again to stop! Any time a child’s behavior becomes disruptive, the father must learn to interrupt his conversation with a polite “can you hang on a moment” and go to the child and correct the wrong action or attitude. God gave mothers more tenderness, and children learn this very quickly. Don’t put the burden on the mother to handle a disruptive child when the father is present. Otherwise, the child will learn that he can get away with poor behavior any time the father, who should be the primary disciplinarian, is busy.
When stopping to correct disruptive behavior, the father will communicate that the child’s behavior takes priority over his conversation. If you don’t do this, the child will increase his poor behavior to get your attention when you are busy in order to gain a feeling of importance.
Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about Dale Schamel’s Buildings for Babies ministry then click here to read their mission statement. You may also contact them from that site to ask them about scheduling a family boot camp for you and your family.