Monday, August 17, 2009

Teaching Older Babies & Young Toddlers to Follow Simple Directions

I feel so amazed when my 14-month old son listens to my verbal directions. I keep my words short and simple and I tend to use the same phrases over and over. If he looks confused or ignores me, then I demonstrate what I want him to do, or I guide him to the place, or I point to what I get the jest, I'm giving him other cues in addition to my simple words. He likes to crawl up the stairs when he thinks I'm not looking. He's done this since the age of 9 months old. But now that he has a better memory, he knows it is wrong. I am not putting up a baby gate, because he rarely goes to the stairs and he needs to learn to follow directions. Yet, I am aware that some children are more impulsive than my son and a gate is necessary. Recently, he walks over to the stairs and begins to crawl up, then looks at me and tells himself "no". All I do is give him a look of disappointment and know the look all of us moms give, it is also known as the "evil eye". This look is all it takes for him to come down and walk away. It sounds like I have a fairly compliant child, and overall I do. But I put expectations on him early on and assumed that with repetition and redirection he could learn to "mind". Never assume it is too soon to do such a thing. Just remember to not use fancy words, use short phrases, and use the same words over and over. Most importantly don't yell or over-react because this may create other issues. Also, be consistent. If you told the toddler to not touch the TV yesterday, then the same rule needs to apply to today, or if not, you can guarantee that tomorrow he will touch it again.

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