Encouraging Positive Behaviour

Lately my baby has taken to biting.  It started with biting my nose now it’s nose, fingers, arm, stomach, basically wherever she can sink her teach in.  It all started with the nose though.  Baby would lean in for the chomp grabbing my ears to make sure I couldn’t escape.   At first I thought it was funny and would make the funny I’m in pain noise and then tickle her.  She is usually not ticklish except when she is tired or when she is trying to bite me.  Clearly we have established the biting tickling routine.  I still tickle her and think it’s quite funny but I’ve been wondering if I’m just encouraging negative social behaviour.

This is actually something that I am always wondering no matter what I am doing with baby.  I always ask myself what is she learning from my behaviour.  For us playing with a child is just fun.  For the child though this is an important socialising experience.  Through play children learn how to be human.  They also learn how to be human by observing everything we do.  My daughter has learnt that humans sweep and vacuum the floor and so always wants to do this.  This of course is a positive behaviour which we encourage.  It’s up to us to make sure they learn positive social behaviour.  Sometimes I make a funny noise when my daughter hits me.  I wonder if this is the starting point for bullying behaviour latter on.  Did a bully learn that if i hit someone they make a funny noise when they were toddlers?  Whether it is true or not I am always checking my behaviour.  Making sure that I am encouraging positive behaviour.

Baby Competitions

Part Rant Part Adorable Baby Story Part Insight

Before having a baby I had no idea there were crawling races.  Now however I have been enlightened.  There are in fact crawling, walking, running and pushing a pusher races.  There are probably more but that’s what I know about so far.  Prior to having a baby I never thought I would put baby in one of these events.  However, we have put our baby in three of these so far.  You may wonder why.  It’s a good thing to wonder.

First up we entered our baby into two crawling competitions for the simple reason that she loves crawling.   The first time round she just sat their soaking up the attention.  Good on her though because she was very happy.   The second time round she even won the race.   For those who have never seen these races though you may wonder what it looks like.  The competitions are held in shopping malls to attract people with babies who would probably not have gone to the mall that weekend.  The course is usually five metres long.  There are five lanes and babies have to get from one end to the other.  There are onlookers all around the track cheering and generally having a good time.  Or just waiting for their baby’s turn.  Parents try to get their babies to crawl unassisted for the five metres.  This usually involves jiggling the baby’s favourite toy in front of them.  For us it was using the video camera because our baby loves cameras.  Tragically I did not press the record button.  Silly daddy.

You may think that this kind of event sounds cruel or exploitative.  I hadn’t really thought so until the weekend mainly because our baby always has a great time at these events.  We took baby to a pushing pusher race because she loves pushing pushers.  We arrived a little bit early so we had to wait for a few heats to finish before we could race.  The whole time we waited baby was desperate to get to the race track.  Next to the track was a playground area full of children but our baby quickly saw through this ruse and crawled straight for the tracks.  When it came to our heat I had to hold baby back from the pusher.  The announcer was going through the names and i was just thinking “Shut up and let us race.”  When she called go baby jumped onto the pusher and sped down the track to the finish line in less time then it takes adults to walk down.  I was tempted to turn her around and have her race back the other way since the rest of the group were no where near finishing.  She had a great time laughing and smiling the whole time.   Oh, there was no prize for coming first.  Just bragging rights and a cool video if you pressed the record button.  Purely for the fun of it.

Hang on though, I just mentioned that now I thought it was a little cruel.  My story sounds very positive.  Well for our baby it was but for the others there were tears and tantrums all round.  Why?  I couldn’t really figure it out at the time nor could baby.  She was looking at the babies enviously as they got to be on the track playing.  Don’t worry when the competition was over I let baby crawl all over the tracks.  As we watched a few more heats though I started wondering why the parents were here.  I knew why we were here but I didn’t know why they were here.  At one point I noticed one green shirted boy chucking a tantrum on the track and remembered him from earlier.  He had been playing in the playground area.  When I saw him he was crying his eyes out. I don’t know why but he was.  No one comforted him though.  He ran out of where he was and knocked his head on the doorway and cried more.  No one came.  He tried to get through the doorway again at the same time as three other kids did and he ended up on the ground crying.  Still no one came.  I was amazed though to see all the kids patting him on the shoulder saying it was OK.  However the parents were no where to be seen.  I was even tempted to go in there and comfort the kid but I knew the last thing the kid needed was some lanky white guy coming in and comforting him.  The mum eventually came after a good fifteen minutes of crying.  It may have been longer since he was crying when I had arrived.  So why did that parent bring her son to the race?  The kid didn’t have any fun at all.  He was balling in the playground and spent the race on the ground banging his fists.  I never asked the mum why she was there.  Maybe the boy was just having a bad day but he wasn’t the only one crying.

So why were the others crying?  Some stood there crying while their parents dangled toys in front of them.   In previous crawling competitions I’ve also seen the babies cry at the starter line.  It’s pretty obvious if you think about it.  There are a tonne of people around them and their parents just put them on the ground, walk away from them and sit five metres in front of them.   They probably feel abandoned in an overstimulating environment.  I don’t know about you but I find malls intense enough as an adult imagine what it must be like for a baby.

Other children that were crying were just lying on the ground not wanting to push the pusher.  When our baby pushes away a toy it’s usually because she’s playing with another toy, she’s getting sleepy or because she wants to do something else.  Of course I’ve never bothered trying to make her play with a toy she didn’t want to.  So what’s going on here then?  The kids probably wanted to keep on playing in the playground.  Or maybe they were just tired and overstimulated.  For me the point is really that if your kid doesn’t want to push the pusher don’t make them.  It’s meant to be a fun event.  In this guess pride or embarrassment obviously gets in the way.  You may wonder what i would have done in baby didn’t want to push the pusher.  I can’t imagine it happening but if she was there crying I would have given her a hug.

So overall what did I learn on the weekend.  I learnt that if your taking your baby to an event make sure you’re taking them because you think they’ll enjoy it.  More importantly though; if you’re taking your baby to an event that you think they’ll enjoy do what you can for them to help them enjoy it.  Play and interact with them.  Have fun with them.  It’s their day after all.

Water Baby

Our baby loves water.  She loves baths, showers, pools and beaches.  So I’ve been wondering what it was we did to get her to this point.  Was she just born to love water or were there things we did to get her to love water.  Obviously I can’t answer if her genetics predisposed her to liking water although she is Australian.

To answer these questions I’ll have to go back in time.  A time when baby could fit on my arm with her head resting in my hand.  As is the standard in Australia she got a bath the first night.  I recall that she wasn’t so fussed on it but she didn’t scream about it.  The nurse taught us how to bathe the baby telling us to put pointer finger to thumb and hold her around the arms with our other fingers supporting her back.  Ease her in and gently pour water over the parts that aren’t in the water.  She also told us that we only need to bathe her once a week.

With this information we went home and put off the bath.  We were both kind of terrified of it.  My mum, not babies mum, decided to help us out.  We gave baby her first bath since the hospital and it went well.  Baby didn’t cry at all.  Buoyed by this success we started bathing her regularly.  Perhaps this is evidence that she just had the genes for it.  One thing we did that may be different to others is that when we bathed her we did it in the bath not in the sink.  I’d get in their with her and hold her the way the nurse taught us.  One game that she loved was being floated towards the wall of the bath.  When it was in range she’d kick with all her might against it and I’d bring her back towards me.  She loved this game until she stopped wanting to be on her back.  She started rolling over in the water and insisted on floating on her tummy.  Thus the game became swimming her toward the wall.  Once she started sitting in the bath we got her some toys to play with.  It eventually reached a point where we could put her in the water with her toys and she’d play on her own.  Except that she always wanted us to join her.  What did we learn?  Make it a fun experience.  If only we knew how to make food time a fun experience.

Fast forward to the present.  We started swimming classes for her because we figure if she likes the water lets put her in there more often.  Part of the swimming class is putting your baby’s head under water.  A daunting experience for any parent.  Our baby had no trouble with it.  Other babies cried, ours just had a puzzled expression on her face.  So why does she have no issues with having her head dunked?

Jumping back in time again, we’re regularly bathing baby and she’s at the point where if we don’t give her a bath she gets grumpy.  Babies generally don’t like having anything on their head.  Our baby still hates wearing hats.  She certainly hates wearing the bike helmet we have for her but I digress.  Although if anyone has any hints on how to get your baby to like wearing hats I’m all ears.  Anyway, at first our baby hated getting water poured over her head but we always did it anyway.  Just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.  She continued hating getting water poured over her head but since it only happened once or twice during bath time she was OK with it.  Usually if I’m going to throw our baby in the air I do a count down.  3, 2, 1.  It reached a point where all I needed to do was count down and she’d laugh.  We made jokes that when she gets to school and they start teaching her to count she’ll start laughing.  So we started doing a countdown and then dunk water on her head.  The result?  She shuts her eyes by the time we get to 1 and afterwards she has a big grin on her face.    Lesson learnt?  Let her know what you are about to do.  She’s a baby but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what’s going on.

Pools are basically giant baths with  cold water instead of hot but what about the beach?  We’ve taken our baby to the beach three times now.  Before I go into any details about her experience I should say that the beaches we’ve taken her have no waves.  Maybe a little bit of a rise here and there but the water never breaks.  Her reaction to it is very interesting.  For one thing she definitely knows it’s different to being in a pool or a bath.    Her reaction is very reassuring actually.  She clings to me with an unbreakable grip.  At first I just sat in the shallows with her hugging me but she didn’t really like that so I went out with her into the deeps.  ImageSwam around on my back squid style, imagine breaststroke only on your back, with her on my stomach.  She started to calm down and enjoy the show.  The first time was without mum, baby’s mum, but the second time she joined us we were able to throw baby between us.  Safely of course, she never leaves our arms.

The Third time was just me and baby again.  At this beach there was a wall about fifty metres out.  Baby just kept on pointing to it.  So I walked out there.  The water was up to my chest.  I just floated her ahead of me.  We met a family out there with a five year old girl in floaties.  She was just swimming around happily.  Obviously quite comfortable in the water.   Everything I did they then did with their five year old girl.  The girl was very happy in the water and was chatting away happily.  She swam confidently.  It was generally a good time.  Baby loved it.

At one point she got her hat wet and was grumpy about having it on her head.  She’d tolerated it up until that point.  So i headed back.  On the way we saw another family and joined them.  They were all on floating devices and were amazed to see me just resting baby on my hand.  One of them asked their child if she’d want to do the same thing.  The child who was probably three years old shook her head in fear.  Lesson learnt?  Floating devices don’t get your child used to the water.  Floaties on the other hand do.

To conclude; while sometimes it may just be down to personality there are ways you can make your baby comfortable in the water.