I have probably mentioned this before, but something I realize again and again every day is that parenting takes A LOT of creativity!
You have to make things fun…to make each day unique…to communicate a message or concept that isn’t getting through…to stay SANE…you need CREATIVITY!
I’ve also realized that it is a hit and miss situation. Sometimes I come up with ideas that absolutely BOMB! But sometimes after thinking of the situation or problem from every angle several times over, the light bulb goes on and I come up with an idea that makes me proud!
Someday I will post about some of my MANY bombs…but today I’m going to focus on one of the successful light bulbs…
I want to back up a little bit so you can know my thought process behind this situation. If you haven’t checked out my post on training your child to understand and obey “no” check it out here.
The basic concept starts at 3-ish months old when I start “conditioning” them to understand certain words. When I pick up my baby I say “come to mommy” so that they will associate that with coming to me. When I lay them down in their crib I say “go to sleep” so that they begin to know that getting set in their crib means its sleeping time. And when I pull their hand away from something I say “no”.
We found that at around 9 months old it became clear that our daughter was comprehending these concepts but sometimes choosing to ignore them. When I would say “no”, she would look at me but then go ahead and do what she wanted to do anyway. So that is when we started swatting (a very light swat on the leg with a paint stirrer). The sound and slight sting was enough motivation to not do what she was originally planning on doing.
Now, at 17 months, she will immediately do what she is told from across the room 90% of the time. And for the 10% of the time that the object or activity is just too enticing, simply bringing the paint stirrer into view usually does the trick. Also, because we have trained her to have a clear understanding and respect for the word “no”, new concepts (like not touching items that she can now reach since beginning to walk) comes quickly and easily.
But the point of teaching “no” so early is so that in the long run I will have to both say “no” and swat less often.
My goal during each day is to avoid them both as much as possible! I don’t like stopping my daughter from doing what she wants to do and I definitely don’t like swatting her! Both are sometimes necessary but adjustments can be made to cut down on their frequency.
My daughter is still in the exploring stage and will often start at one end of a room and gradually work her way around the entire room exploring, touching (and often tasting) everything in sight. In order to encourage this exploring and avoid frequent no’s, I have taken three steps:
- Put 50-75% of all “non-touchables” out of reach.
- Consistently train not to touch the 25-50% of “non-touchables” still in reach from a very early age
- Be flexible about what is touched (if it’s not breakable or harmful it’s usually ok)
The important thing about teaching obedience is continuing to give them the chance to choose to obey which is why I leave some “non-touchables” in every room. I’ve also let go of some reservations in an effort to let her explore. When she first became mobile I was tempted to say “no” because she might get finger prints on items or make a little mess or not like it…but if it doesn’t permanently damage the object or cause her any harm I think it is best for her to be able to figure things out for herself.
This was all working great until she was around 12 months old and I discovered an issue. I had been very particular about making sure there was a drawer or cabinet in every room that she could open and explore without worrying about anything. I might fill it with toys or plastic container or ribbons etc.
But by necessity, there were also drawers and cabinets in every room that she couldn’t explore…but memorizing the “yes drawers” versus the “no drawers” is hard for a one year old and I found myself saying “no” a lot more often then I wanted to just because she couldn’t remember which ones were ok when she entered a room.
I have to admit, I’m proud of this one! It is so simple, yet thankfully has been so effective!
The solution had to be a way for her to enter any given room and immediately remember which cabinets/drawers were “Heidi drawers” and which were not. It was also preferable that it be fun and non-permanent.
So here it is:
- Make sure that there is at least one drawer/cabinet in every room with child-proof contents.
- Tie a long strand of brightly colored ribbon on the handle and curl it for the fun of it.
- Every time your child goes up to a “mommy drawer” say “no, that is a mommy drawer” and then direct them to one with ribbons, pull on the ribbon and say “this is a (child’s name) drawer”
- Every time they go up to their drawer pull on the ribbons and say, “Good job! This is a (child’s name) drawer!”
I’m not saying that Heidi never goes up to a “mommy drawer” anymore, but on the rare occasion that she does, I just say “no, that is mommy’s drawer…go play with Heidi’s drawer” and she immediately closes the drawer she was in and goes to one with a ribbon.