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How should I discipline my 5 month old?

My daughter is 5 and a half months old, and she has started an obsession with pulling hair and taking peoples' glasses off. A friend of mine told me that when she does it I should lightly pop her hand and say "NO" so she learns that this is an unacceptable action. Is it too soon to start this with her? I'm not one of those parents who's opposed to spanking by any means, but I feel like 5 months is early to start popping her hand. What should i do?

Submitted by amberthompson41

Dear Amberthompson41:

 

You have raised a good question that seems to concern many parents. Professional people who work with children have found that hitting children has negative effects--naturally, the child is likely to stop whatever the child is doing at the moment but the overall impact is to make the child more aggressive, angry, and mistrustful of the parent who hits.

 

It is natural for 5 month old babies to want to pull at anything within reach. Their brains are wired for them to do so. It is also very likely that normal moods of excitement, love, or anger are also stimulated in a small baby by a thousand things that happen in the ordinary day--and your daughter may certainly give you the impression that she is getting enjoyment out of these personal attacks. Your intuition that she somehow knows that she is provoking you may be part of your suspicion that you need to do something about it.

 

It is not too soon to control the situation, so that you minimize the opportunity to pull hair and yank off eyeglasses. If you can, you might tie back your hair and lay your glasses aside for a few weeks when you play with your daughter, so that these things do not tempt her. When any baby or child does something that hurts another person, the grown-ups must step in right away so that the activity doesn't continue. You need to keep yourself, your hair, and your glasses safe! At the same time, you can certainly explain, "No no! We don't pull hair!" or something similar if you wish. The expression on your face will surely deliver the right message either way, since obviously you do not like it.

 

This is all you need to do: first, maintain safety by intervening quickly and actively, so that no one is hurt; second, provide a very brief explanation. Since your daughter is too little to understand language fully at this point, of course, the words are not really necessary. However, the principle of safety first plus explanation is all you need to do.

 

This phase will pass on its own. Distracting her and avoiding a hullabaloo will help.

 

Elizabeth Berger MD

Child Psychiatrist

The answers from our experts are for educational purposes only. Please always refer to your child's pediatrician and mental health expert for more in-depth advice.

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5 months is WAY too early to be spanking or popping a child! Instead of "disciplining" your 5 month old BABY, you should be fairly proud of her because she's developing right & knows how to grasp things... give the baby time to learn & explore. Wow, the nerve of some people...
Submitted by 4622pkw.ladywood
Adults need to have some respect for the physical development of babies. Observe, prevent, substitute--but the act of reaching out and grasping something is not bad! The adult in that child's life is the person with whom the child will bond--and this relationship will give the child the motivation eventually to curb their own behavior. Give the kid a break! Self control is a long, long process, and patience is important. www.grandparentoptions.com
Submitted by GrJBaer
SO... I encourage EVERY PARENT of a child under a year, esp under 6 months, to learn, and teach, AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE, to their kids. when my 2d & 3d were born, 1s couple days, we were signing MILK to child. Within weeks, although not reproducing sign, he and she would recognise sign for milk, with NO BOTTLE in sight, and get excited, or start to cry when seeing us sign that to them. We gave them milk than. By 6 months old, sooner w youngest, they both reproduced sign for milk.
Submitted by americanman_4_life
To follow up with what I explained previously, mentioning Sign Language.... Yes, I learned when my first was 6 months old that every child is born wanting to communicate with mom/dad. How, they cry, all they know how. But they are able to recognise shapes and movements before sounds. Repeated enough times, as early as 1m old, they can reproduce the sign by 6 months old. Of course, i was behind w 1st child, she caught up to it by 10-11 m old, signin by 1y. Other 2 learned Sign for milk 1 mo.
Submitted by americanman_4_life
From below... So f months, as ea child would test there bounderies at that age, I would sign/say no, they would redirect automatically. Eventually though, they would learn to disapprove my guiding, needing the next step. Around 10m- 1y, ie they reach or touch (TV, VCR, anything) say i was 10' away, I would say Name- SIGN/SAY NO- and point t child. Instead of redirecting, they would look away, keep goin for bad. I would approach child, repeat SAME STEPS- add 1 displeasing tap ON HAND- REDIRECT.
Submitted by americanman_4_life
Single father of 3 kids. 2.5, 3.5, and near 5 (mid Mar). The middle is my boy, other 2 are girls. with all 3 I found it effective at that age, 5 mo, to redirect, and show displeasure. ie if 5m child reaching for TV or VCR, I would SIGN (Am Sign Lg) NO, say NO, and redirect from the unavail object, than immediatly give a toy or book, react positive to this obj. Soon enough, I wouldnt redirect. I would say/sign NO same time, child would redirect self. More next message.
Submitted by americanman_4_life
You tell her a simple NO and give her a warning. The next time she does it put her in timeout for 5 min. and 30 seconds. Hope that helps!
Submitted by kmg7447
Re: 5 mt.old, she's a child and need to be taught. no so much as popping her hand, but remove her hand when she does this and speak to her while looking directly in the eyes and tell her NO and explain why. also try buying her a pair of sunglasses of her own, this worked for my daughter when she was about this age. you know she's new to this world (no glasses in the womb) they are fascinating to her. but a tap on the hand might refresh the NO as a reminder, we are human and repeat offenders.
Submitted by mickeypace
I started "disciplining" my son early. As a baby we used a lot of redirection and in my case "the look". As he approached a year we began time outs and light hand tapping. I immediately noticed that when my son was displeased or frustrated he began hitting. I was in no way opposed to spanking but we decided to strictly use the time out method. When we stopped hitting, he stopped hitting. We still use time out and it is successful. He is now 2.
Submitted by jamie.sheehan19
Hi, my son, Eric is a HUGE screamer. He just screams…he will actually tantrum when I tell him no, but afterwards he just does short little screams. He knows about 20 words or so, but he only uses them when I tell him to “say ——”. I am at my wits. I really don’t know how to break him of this? Although I'm reading several books on the subject of development in children and find Louise Bates Ames book as a good one. This book will help you know what to expect, developmentally from your child.
Submitted by margaritadrake
Hi, my son, Eric is a HUGE screamer. He just screams…he will actually tantrum when I tell him no, but afterwards he just does short little screams. He knows about 20 words or so, but he only uses them when I tell him to “say ——”. I am at my wits. I really don’t know how to break him of this? Although I'm reading several books on the subject of development in children and find Louise Bates Ames book as a good one. This book will help you know what to expect, developmentally from your child.
Submitted by margaritadrake
I definitely agree about minimizing opportunities for these things to happen, and if it does, saying No or just looking displeased. If your baby sees that you look unhappy, s/he will not like it. When my dog was a tiny puppy I learned that puppies learn not to play too rough because they get scared by the yelps their siblings make when they bite them. So I began "yelping" when he would bite me. They catch on, and kids are much smarter and more empathetic than dogs....
Submitted by jcollum
I have two children myself one is three and the other one is eight months old. I have learned the best thing to do is remove the baby from what he/ she can not have and give the baby a toy and remove the object to a higher place so the baby wont be temped to go and try to get it later on.
Submitted by adamovich_saman
Whoever suggested that hitting a 5 month old - their children have my sympathy. Out of curosity a baby grabs at anything when he learns to use his hands, its natural. Remove the child so that he cannot reach prohibited things. This is a learning process for the child and he is too young to comprehend what not to touch. That's where parents come in, be patient, help him learn motor skills on things that he CAN touch.
Submitted by brandma6585
Who the heck would slap a 5 month olds hand????? Obviously your friend has no patience or understanding of babies/kids! WOW
Submitted by
I would have something else like a rattle to occupy their hands. Something else to distract them. They like clutching things with their hands. Shiny bracelets or something.I am going through crazy things with my grandson.He likes pulling things off the coffee table and taking my canned goods off the shelf. I don't mind about the canned goods but he needs to learn not to take things off the coffee table. I simply move him away from the area and tell him no those are not for him. Then I take him to what is for him.
Submitted by tikidd46