The topic of "a child's behaviour" is usually thought to apply to children of an age where they know what is expected of them rather than the instinctive behaviours of infants. The phrase "The Terrible Two's" comes straightaway to mind. But even before they are of an age to use wilful behaviours, babies can be taught (and therefore exhibit) all sorts of desirable and undesirable behaviour patterns. Mothers are continually surprised at how early a baby can exhibit specific patterns of behaviour, outside of the expected instinctive moods and reactions.
As soon as you sense a baby has awareness of their own desires and ability to act at will (anywhere from around 3 months), you can assume they will soon start using it to their own advantage! A young baby's first tussles with his mother will come firstly at the breast when feeding, in conjunction with knowing that being put into a cot means separation from her. Ways of approaching and managing those specific behavioural issues have been covered previously in the breastfeeding and sleeping sections. Following those times, the next phase of challenging behaviours usually comes around the time of first solids, and this has also been covered previously.
It is from about the age of 8 months when crawling starts and language
patterns of behaviour become more pronounced, and from this time your way of managing this will set the scene for many years of behaviour patterns. Let us look first at the familiar notions surrounding behaviour in general, before examining the specifics of childhood behaviours.
Appropriate and Contextual Behaviours
Firstly, I use the word "behaviours", in the plural, because it is obvious that we humans have many types of behaviour. We keep different sets of behaviour on hand to use whenever and wherever we sense they are appropriate. In any situation, what is judged as acceptable behaviour is totally dependent on the context in which it is found. Social, cultural, religious, ethical, moral, institutional, professional, familial or personal codes of behaviour, all vary from place to place, time to time and person to person. So no-one can really set any absolute standards for behaviour. We can only live by the relative standards set down by those who govern each particular situation in which we find ourselves.
When it comes to teaching children so-called "good behaviour" what we are really trying to teach them is appropriate behaviour for the particular situation. From as soon as they start visiting different households, and definitely by the age at which they start pre-school, children have realised there are different