You probably find yourself starting to give lots of directions to your child and chances are she doesn't always follow them. The way we give directions can make a difference in whether or not children follow them, and teaches children what to expect from you. This is a great opportunity for you to model respect, patience, and consistency.


When you give directions, use a calm, polite voice and give your child enough time to begin following your directions before you repeat it. Count out about 8-10 seconds in your head. This gives your child time to think about what they need to do and to start doing it. Stay calm and avoid yelling or using your "I mean it voice". You want to teach your child to follow any direction you give, not just the ones you yell or "really mean". If you don't mean it, don't say it. Follow through with what you say and don't make empty threats ("guess we can't go to the party"). Talking to your child respectfully and calm and following through on what you say teaches her that she can trust you and feel safe with you. It also keeps you calm and feeling better about taking care of the most important person in your life! 


Brain Science for Your Baby

Toddlers often don't do what they are told.  But your response can make a huge difference in their behavior.  Gerald Patterson, Ph.D. has studied the interactions between parents and their children for over 30 years.  He and his colleagues have found that some parents and their children get into a pattern of interaction (power struggle) that leads to worse behavior in children and loss of control in parents.  They call this the Parent Child Coercive Cycle. 


Basically, this creates a cycle where the parent gives a direction, the child doesn't follow it, and the parent yells or gets angry.  The child then eventually follows the direction, making it more likely the parent will yell or get angry in the future to get the child to follow directions.  Or the child may make a demand which the parent refuses and then the child has a tantrum and the parent gives in which leads the child to quiet down and reinforces the parent giving in.  There are ways to "break" the cycle (see figure).  Breaking this cycle starts with the parent being calm and consistent and giving positive reinforcement (praise for example) when the child follows the direction.



















From The Parent Child Coercive Cycle by Terrel Templeman, Ph.D. 

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Set your child up for success: 


Give fewer directions and ONLY the ones you need to give and plan to follow through on. 


Use a calm, polite voice & avoid yelling or getting upset.


Give the child time to respond. Wait 8-10 seconds before you restate or follow through. 


Make sure you have the child's attention. Get close to her, at her level, and make eye contact.


Give 1-step directions, using simple language. Make sure the direction is something your child knows how to do.


Give directions in a statement, not a question. For example, "sit in chair", instead of "can you sit in the chair".


Give specific, labeled praise for following your directions!!! For example, if you want your child to "sit in the chair", follow compliance with "good sitting in chair", rather than just "good job!).


*Tell them what TO DO rather than what NOT to do

A Baby Buffer Prescription for You  


Count your blessings!


Being grateful and recognizing the positive or good things in your life helps people feel good about themselves and improves your mood. How we view things is related to how we feel and what we do and say. 


One way to improve how we feel is to identify positive and good things in your life. Try one of these ideas to boost your mood!


Keep a gratitude journal. Record something you are grateful or thankful for each day. Consider keeping a journal to write in each day or use your devise to make an audio recording counting your blessing. Read or listen to these blessings frequently.


Tell someone why you are thankful they are in your life or something you appreciate about them. 


Become your own "spoiler alert". Notice if you are spoiling the mood by being negative, thinking the worst, or feeling down. Make a mental note of this "spoiler alert" and think of three things that could be positive about the situation.



What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Children in this age range are moving away from their "baby" stage and toward the greater world that they have never been physically able to explore before. Talking, walking and asserting their independence are the hallmarks of this stage, developmentally. Children need to explore...we just need to help them do so safely!


Gene's Research Tip

A study from the New York University School of Medicine looked at women and the habit of watching TV while eating during the third trimester and then again when the babies were 3 months old.


They found that 70% watched TV while eating during pregnancy and that 30% of infants were fed in front of the TV.  Those mommies under 25 years were more likely to feed the babes in front of the boob tube, and bottle fed babies were also more likely to experience media.  So, is this bad?

Well, numerous studies show that when our attention isn't on eating, we have a tendency to eat more.  One theory of this is that we aren't paying close attention to the signals the body is giving, so we just keep "shoveling it in!"


And the concern can be, that we get in the habit of "shoveling it in" to our babies, as well, especially, if we are thinking of something else, like that TV show, or that new text message...rather than really watching TSK (that special kid)! Read More

Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Katrina Ostmeyer-Kountzman, PhD, BCBA

It happens almost every day.  I walk in the door with my 2 year old son after a long day at work, and he turns around and says, "Mommy, pay with me."  This is usually followed by a large arm gesture, and a "come on" to get me to come to the toy he has wanted to play with all day.  When this happens, many thoughts go through my head.  I think about how cute and special he is, but I also think about everything I need to do.  There's unfinished housework, paperwork I brought home, dinner that needs to be cooked, and sleep that I desperately want. 


Usually, one look at that sweet little face helps me forget about some of those things.  Other times, it's knowing how important it is for my son (an only child) to be able to play with me. Read More

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