Bad or Good?

Is Baby Bad or Good—or Just Being a Baby?


As much as I like adjectives, there will be times when verbs will be more useful. From the beginning, your baby will sometimes do things that do not work well for you. For example, is a baby who wants to eat every two hours being bad, or is her little tummy too small to hold much food? In her efforts to get her needs for survival met, your baby will often cry and demand you do something for her. As she does her part to thrive, she deserves respect. Although this can be hard on moms, new mothers instinctively understand that a baby is neither good nor bad.


Although initially, survival drives the baby’s behavior, she will soon begin to attempt to tell you what she wants. In her efforts to communicate, she may act in ways that appear naughty. Instead of concluding that the behaviors need to be corrected, remember that your baby’s communication abilities remain limited. How else can she let you know that she needs or wants something? Babies get to be babies communicating the best they can. Their behavior can never be considered either good or bad.


Looking ahead, your baby will reach a stage often referred to as “the terrible twos.” Although you may be tempted to agree with the phrase, please resist. Around age two or three, she will begin to grasp the concept of her separateness. To declare this newfound insight, she will reject many of your ideas. (This stage will resemble a baby-size teenage rebellion. Think of this developmental stage as a preview of what will come to full bloom later.)


For example, if you ask, “Do you want some juice?” she will probably say no, even as she reaches for the glass.


You can avoid the conflict if you offer choices such as, “Do you want apple juice or orange juice?”

Instead of “You are a good baby,” say, “Thank you for helping me pick up toys. Helping makes all of us feel happy.”


Replace, “You are being a bad girl,” with “Would you like to listen while I read a book to you, or do you want to play with your blocks?”


Thinking again about grammar, eliminate adjectives such as good or bad. Instead, use verbs to describe behaviors with an emphasis on the behaviors you seek to encourage.

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