I have a one-year old baby, she is smart and loves to try everything and anything, including putting her fingers in the electricity and tasting every possible thing she finds :)

How can I tell my child in such age not to do that or this, and deliver her the message that doing something is not right?

Sometimes I shout in her face to deliver the message (sometimes she cries when I do that), or (gently) hit her mouth or hand to tell her that she shouldn't eat or touch that...

I feel I'm doing the wrong thing, and I need advice from others with experience or knowledge.

  • Welcome to the community Kivy! Did you see this question? parenting.stackexchange.com/q/6606/2876. It seems to me it duplicates your intent here. You might also scroll through the "discipline" tag to help you find some alternative means of making the point to your daughter. Hope this helps. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:24
  • @balancedmama: Thanks a lot for your contribution to my post. Actually it's a pleasure to be part of this community; and sure, I'll check the "disciplined" tag you referred to. Regarding the duplicity, you are right actually, but I was asking about a specific behavior I do that I needed a feedback from the community,so, it's not fully similar to the post you referred to.
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:33
  • Alright. That answers that question. :-) Perhaps this one parenting.stackexchange.com/q/6518/2876, This one parenting.stackexchange.com/q/3961/2876 and this one would be of assistance in particular. parenting.stackexchange.com/q/5061/2876 Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:40
  • OR this one parenting.stackexchange.com/q/275/2876 Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:54
  • WOW, very nice stuff, I really appreciate your help, thanks again :)
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:56

6 Answers 6


A one year child, while quite active with the hands and legs, is in the discovery phase, everything is new and exciting. Putting things in the mouth or feeling crevices through is their way of experiencing their world.

At the same time, they are definitely aware of when their parents are happy with them and when they are not. They also try to take actions that make the parents happy or get them engaged in a positive manner with the parents.

Try to move the child away from the objects, look them in th eye and change your voice intonation (without raising it too much) to let them know if there is a behaviour you are not happy about.

Similarly praise them with a smile or hug when they do something positive, like walking or crawling, or keeping things in their right places. They would like to repeat behavior that gives them positive feedback.

Try to keep a positive to negative feedback ratio high 5:1 perhaps. So look for reasons to praise the child. Saying, yes, yes goes farther than no, no. This means you have be on the lookout for positive behavior - it's so much more difficult to spot!

At the same time there are some dangerous situations where you simply have to take immediate action, for example if the child is about to reach out to the sharp edge of a knife, or touch a hot iron or put his fingers in the electric socket. Attempt to keep the home child safe by removing access to these scenarios and if they do occur the first task of the parent should be to remove the child from that situation, it can be included with a loud voice and a loud no. This acclimatises the child to stop doing whatever they are doing (like trying to cross a road without assitance) when they hear you shout in the future.

Let them get away with as much as they can. It's the discovery phase after all. Involve them in tidying up once they make a mess, so putting things back in their places becomes an interesting activity.

  • 1
    Great answer alok, specially the part of positive to negative feedback ratio.
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 10:00

Both shouting in your baby's face and hitting her in the mouth seem very wrong to me.

At one year of age, your baby will understand from the tone of your voice that you mean No when you say No. A good way to deliver the message is to say No and then provide a reason why your baby should not be doing the thing he/she is doing. This way you are not simply providing arbitrary boundaries, but logical ones --- and your baby will be able to understand the reasons, eventually.

We use more than just No. We have a kind of playful warning "Ej ej" (Swedish) for something our girl shouldn't be doing, and a very clear "Ouch" if she's going to do something that will hurt, such as touching the heater. At other times we lift her out of the situation, saying No and explaining why. If she does something that hurts one of us, such as pulling our hair, we give her the cold shoulder for a little while, to let her know that that is not a nice way of being affectionate.

Our little girl is getting the message, and often repeats back the message to us (well, just the single word). It does not restrict her curiosity and certainly takes more than one try to get the message across, but it does not involve any shouting or hitting.

  • 1
    +1 We also use a single simple clear word as warning, and use volume/intonation to show the gravity of the situation. Comes across perfectly, without need for spanking. In a worst case, we grab the child and physically carry him away - repeatedly if necessary. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 9:34
  • @Dave, I really appreciate your advice. Actually, I have been doing that, but I need more patience to see the results.
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 9:48
  • @TorbenGundtofte-Bruun, I agree with you as well, specially the volume/intonation, I'll give it more focus.
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 9:51
  • @Kivy: Patience is the key word... it's the single most tried and stressed part of parents of small children. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:22
  • This is Torben, you brought the core of the thing to the table. Thanks for your consecutive contributions in this post and in the parenting.stackexchage, you are doing a very good job, it was a pleasure talking to you today :)
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:27

First of all...


for listening to the part of you that said something was 'wrong' with your style. I wouldn't personally call it 'wrong' so much as ill advised. But you heard that voice. So many parents either can't hear it or ignore it.


Reminder: She's 1.

That means they cry when something scares or hurts them. The fact is that then you scream in her face (did you mean Scream scream? or merely Speak Loudly?) and she cries, it's because you scared her.

At 1, there's not a whole lot they can comprehend. But most babies that ages know the word "No" second only to knowing their name. Take advantage of that. I'll bet that you could say her name, then "No" and get a reaction. Read her actions... she may step back, look at you, things like that. At some point you may have to physically remove her from the situation, but truly, you can do the whole thing and get the exact same reactions from her (meaning she'll be right back at it in :05) by using even tones.

Hand "spanking" is really all about getting their attention. You don't have to do much more than golf-clap the back of their hand to snap them to reality long enough to point and say "No." (If you're doing it harder than that, you're just wasting spirit) Even that, however, isn't really necessary or effective with a 1 yr old. They don't really get it. Save the contact for a kid that can understand the explanation that should come with it.

"Dude >clap< No. Peanut butter sandwiches don't go in the vcr. Put it on your plate where it goes.

  • 3
    It so totally goes in the vcr. That's why they built that sandwich-shaped slot in the front. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 18:45

My son just turned two last Friday. I can relate with your story because my son used to do those things, and even now he still do that. You really have to be patient with your child because that is the age where he is exploring things. They don't know yet, that it will be bad for them, so you really have to keep an eye on them.

To give you additional information, I also read from this article - 8 Tools for Toddler Discipline which may help you out.http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/discipline-behavior/8-tools-toddler-discipline

  1. Guide the little hands
  2. Respect little grabbers
  3. Get behind the eyes of your toddler
  4. Distract and divert
  5. Offer redirectors
  6. Set limits
  7. Take Charge
  8. Provide structure

You may read the full article for a deeper understanding of each tool.

  • Thanks Ayls, very nice rules, I'll read the article for sure :)
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 6:11
  • Really nice structured way of looking at this issue
    – alok
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 8:58

Firstly if you want to keep opportunities for toddler injury low then you need to babyproof. Put covers on your sockets, lock away chemicals and drugs, keep small objects out of reach, put hot drinks up high, put gates on stairs. Obviously this cannot stop 100% of opportunities for injury but if you can make your environment as safe as reasonably possible you will spend far less time saying "No."

Secondly decide on your rules and consequences and stick to them. Obviously anything that may injure your child is a big no. However you may want a couple of other standard rules that you intend to enforce. In our house it was "no playing with the bin." Remember your child is 1 so keep your number of rules low and simple and your expectations low also!

Sensible consequences for a 1 year old who breaks the rules is to be told calmly but firmly "No" or "Hot" or "Hurt". Then remove the object or remove the child from the situation. Distract them with something else and move on with your day. You'll need to repeat yourself a lot at first but they will come to respond to the firm tone of voice and to understand what activities are not allowed.

My daughter is now 2 and the consequences remain the same. I get down to her level and say a firm but calm no. These days I then offer a few words of explanation - e.g. "No. Don't touch mummies coffee it is hot and you will hurt yourself." Then we move on. She is a well behaved little girl who doesn't mess with the bin, knows drinks are hot and leaves them alone, knows that pennies are "not for eating" and has yet to cause herself any permanent damage. She also knows that no means no but is never scared of consequences. I have to agree with posters above that physically hurting or scaring your child is unnecessary and rather unpleasant.

  • I applaud the general babyproofing advice. Socket covers may defeat inbuilt safety systems where they are present, so it's worth checking out what safety features apply to your territory before using them. For example : - fatallyflawed.org.uk Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 11:00

If a child places itself in danger the parents first reaction should, of course, be to immediately remove the child from the scene, but that is not enough! The danger and its cause need to be embedded in the childs brain as something bad that hurts. Children don't understand abstract things like pain and death. Explaining to a one year old that touching an electric socket will result in electrocution is pointless, he doesn't have the means of understanding it. If a child gets a smack every time he tries touching the socket he will know: touch socket = pain. he will learn this message WITHOUT being electrocuted first.

  • You are making a point here, but I can't say it's right or wrong.
    – Kivy
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 13:38
  • Hello and welcome! I'm not sure what your answer is, exactly. Could you clarify how you recommend these parents to act? You can click the edit link and revise your answer. Read more here: How to answer. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 14:29
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    Sorry, but smacking a child every time they do something wrong is not good advice, imo. There are far better ways. -1.
    – user420
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:06
  • If you make clear with the intonation of your voice that playing with electricity is bad, then you don't need to beat your child. The whole idea that a child does not understand NO, so beat it seems very barbaric. You need to teach it the meaning of the word NO as well. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:30
  • 3
    Actually, you aren't teaching the child the socket = pain, you are teaching the child that upsetting parent = pain. I agree with Dave, and Beofett here and so does the law in many countries. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 15:37

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