I want/I don’t want

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I want/I don’t want

The small children who demand I want /I don't want – and then take it a step further with some screaming, yelling and may end up on the floor throwing a big hissy fit – have more than likely been full on demand fed babies.

Dr. Spock, an American Paediatrician (1903 – 1998) advocated in his books on baby care, that babies should be fed on demand.

That is a very powerful word – 'I want/I will have' or 'I don't wan't it /I will not have it'

Setting a routine for both feeding and sleeping is the first 'learning' step set by the parents and it is the beginning of NOT raising an 'I demand' baby.

It is such an important part of parenting – that is – you are setting the rules – the baby will very soon learn that this is how it will be and it is such a pleasure to meet babies who are in a routine, self settle, sleep well in their own beds, will quite happily amuse themselves both on waking and during mat time, are loved and cuddled by mainly stress-free parents who are so happy to have this wonderful baby who is in a routine which they have created.

When you look at your own life, it is based on routine, a routine around the mum and dad, especially if the mum is working and then a routine around the rest of the family. Routines change as the baby grows or is completely different if there are older children.

In a routine, the same thing happens every day – give or take – and then that routine is relaxed a bit during the week-end when the family is not clock watching for school/kindergarten/day care/work but there is still a routine, especially around the feed and sleep times of the baby.

If there is not a routine in place, the day to day living situation starts to fall about – stress moves in and it all becomes too hard.

The 'demand' (I really don't like that word!) fed baby has no routine so the mum really has no idea what is going to happen next. Recently I saw a mum walking with her baby – around 11.30am. She sat down on a public bench, took the baby from the pram and commenced to breast feed – middle of winter – not in a safe environment and I couldn't help but think – 'a demand-fed' baby. Feed the baby before going for a walk!

As the baby growns into the toddler stage, demanding has become part of its life, and this child will use any demanding strategy a small but developing brain can use to get whatever it is the child demands, and the list of 'wants' and 'don't want's' gets longer and longer.

We all know and have seen the demanding toddler/plus demanding in the Supermarket – 'I want those sweets – no those ones – not those ones' – then crying/screaming/followed by a full on hissy fit until the mum eventually gives in and the toddler has won another round!

'I want that toy/your cell phone/not that food/I'm not going to bed/I want that video – NOW.

It's called self gratification and these demanding children expect that to happen NOW.

After 55 years caring for children – and watching children's behaviour in public places, I have seen it all.A desparate mum will give in to a childs demand for food other than that which is served at the table.

Your dinner table is just that – it is not a fully blown resturant and the child from a very early age should understand that what is served is what 's for dinner. OK – if the child does not want that, excuse the child from the table, with a little message that there is no more food until the next meal time except a drink of water. Very soon a child will understand that you have set the rules!

Too many choices for a small child is confusing and they have great difficulty in making that choice. Keep it simple.

I was shocked recently at the Baby Show in Auckland when speaking to many mums who co sleep with their babies – anything from birth to 6 months and beyond despite the fact that this is such a big no no.

I spoke recently to a mum about to have her second child and she remarked that she would not be making the same mistake with No. 2. When I enquired what that was she told me that after giving birth to her first, she slept the baby on her chest for the two days in the maternity ward and no health professional advise her differently. That habit continued until the child was one year old and then the mum persevered for some time to separate the small child from the co sleeping habit.

Baby No 2 will be sleeping in it's own bed from day 1 !!

Back to the Baby Show mums – almost all said 'Oh, but the baby cries when I put it into it's own bed’. Here is the beginning of the 'I don't want to be in my own bed’.

And this from a Grandmother concerning two children from the same family. One 5 year old just started school, on the sofa with his mum around 7.30pm watching TV and then going sound asleep whilst the 6 month old baby sister on the floor under a 'baby-gym with a bottle – also sound asleep. All this on Facebook. Has the mother ever heard about putting the children into their beds to go to sleep!

You as a mother and supported by your partner have a huge responsibility to raise well adjusted children, setting routines both sleeping and feeding. You set the riules – not the child.

I read in a national newspaper at the week-end, an article concerning a great Headmaster about to take on this role at a struggling secondary school at the age of 68 yrs.

He stated (at schools) 'You need routine, structure and rituals of belonging' (celebrating everyones birthday, Christmas etc). If routine and structure are put in place by the parents, you will not have a demanding child who then maybe, will become a problem student.

Finally, I looked in horror at the out of control group of young girl students in Auckland, fighting in a car-park and I ask 'Did they have routine, structure and rituals of belonging in their early lives?' Happy parenting! It can be so rewarding.

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