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the eric update - day 519: getting past no.

the Incredible Interestingness of the laptop power supply has provided us with many opportunities to practice the meaning of the word "no" and it's been quite obvious for awhile that he understands the general intent of the word to mean approximately "please don't do whatever it is that you're doing at the moment"; of course, like all children, sometimes he complies and sometimes he just pretends to ignore you.

but today while we were engaged in yet another lesson about not pulling the laptop power plug forcefully out of the computer, after i firmly stated, "no, odin.", he proceeded to pull it out anyway and then turned towards me and smiled a big smile as he firmly said, "no." before attempting to chew off the end of the plug.

while we're happy to see that he's developing his language skills, we fairly certain that we're quickly going to have to develop a strategy for getting past no, since we suspect that this probably not his last experiment with actively disobeying a request from mamma and pops.

as always, suggestions are appreciated!

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12/05/2005 09:13:00 PM 7 comments

7 Comments:

The great thing about kids Odin's age is that distraction really works. When my kids were that age I actually kept a selection of 2-3 small but attractive noisemakers on my desk, and when they tried to pull on the cords (yes, they were really into cords too) I'd rattle the noisemaker and offer to give it to them.

By Blogger Lisa, at 9:13 AM  

hysterical laugher doesn't count as a suggestion, does it?

We aren't at the point that Shoshanna says "no" back yet, but she clearly knows that there are some things she's not supposed to do (playing with cords, electrical outlets, pulling hair) and does them anyway. She does, however, laugh at us when we look at her and say "no" which usually results in the disciplining parent running and hiding in order to keep her from seeing the laughter that results.

That said, distraction works for us, too. I usually say "no" and physically move her away from the thing she's not supposed to be playing with. I'd say about 50% of the time, she'll turn around and crawl right back to the forbidden object.

By Blogger Sarah, at 9:48 AM  

Well, seeing as Sarah already suggested my first suggestion, I'll try for another :-p

When my son was young, I found that over-using the word 'no' just made things into a game and had the unwanted side effect of making him essentially tune out the word.

So, we changed strategies. We saved forceful 'NO's for situations that jeopardized his immediate safety and tried to use alternatives to the word 'no'.

Distraction and redirection worked the best and actually using words like 'not right now', 'later', 'ta-ta' or 'not a good idea'. We also said stuff like 'no thank you' or 'no touching' instead of outright 'no'.

It sounds silly, but it actually did make saying 'NO!' much more effective in situations that warranted it.

If you think about it, the word a toddler hears most often is probably 'NO!', so of course they're going to learn to say it and tune it out.

By Blogger pumpkinhead, at 7:47 AM  

pumpkinhead: "Distraction and redirection worked the best and actually using words like 'not right now', 'later', 'ta-ta' or 'not a good idea'. We also said stuff like 'no thank you' or 'no touching' instead of outright 'no'.

It sounds silly, but it actually did make saying 'NO!' much more effective in situations that warranted it."


thanks for all the thoughtful suggestions. we do typically try distraction as the tactic of first resort, but usually that just makes him more interested in whatever we're trying to distract him from until he tires of our repeated attempts to distract him. so i guess in one sense distraction works with him, but in another sense it's not particularly effective.

your suggestion to limit the use of the word "no" is timely because we are trying to stop ourselves from reflexively using the word - e.g. instead of telling him "no. don't pull the christmas tree bulbs off the tree." when we see him approaching the tree, before we get to the point of having to say "no...", we point to the bulb and say "touch gently!" it seems to be working much better than, say, trying to redirect him away from the tree entirely which would only encourage him to pull the bulbs off at every given chance.

he even claps proudly when he's touched the bulb gently.

that said, it's easier said than done to retrain oneself to not say "no". at least for us. but try and try again.

By Blogger e3, at 9:19 PM  

I can totally relate. IT's really genuinely hard to find things other than 'NO' to say in the heat of the moment. 'No' just sums it up so nicely :). We also tried the 'touch gently!' or 'please use gentle hands' intead of 'no hitting' or 'no touching'. I'd show him my own 'gentle hands' by stroking his face and then he'd do the same when I said 'show Mama 'gentle hands'.

It's still a bugger of a thing to try and remember to say this stuff though.

Funny story: I knew that it was sinking in the day my son was clearly irritated w/ a play mate and started to shove said friend away, only to start somewhat vigourously stroking the child's face w/ a very disgruntled look on his own face. He was pissed, but he was using 'gentle hands'. Hilarious.

I hope my comment sounded like I knew what I was doing, cuz that would be waaaaaaaaaaay off. We're still making it up as we go along :-).

By Blogger pumpkinhead, at 1:40 PM  

Oh, and that was supposed to say 'I hope my comment DIDN'T make it sound like i knew what I was doing'.

By Blogger pumpkinhead, at 1:40 PM  

pumpkinhead: "Funny story: I knew that it was sinking in the day my son was clearly irritated w/ a play mate and started to shove said friend away, only to start somewhat vigourously stroking the child's face w/ a very disgruntled look on his own face. He was pissed, but he was using 'gentle hands'. Hilarious.

I hope my comment sounded like I knew what I was doing, cuz that would be waaaaaaaaaaay off. We're still making it up as we go along :-)."


we're actually having really good luck with the "touch gently" approach with the christmas tree and while it might not always work, i'm fairly certain that if we had just started of with "no, don't pull of the bulbs" that he'd be obsessed with doing just that. it's a great idea, although still reminded on a daily basis how difficult it can be to consistently.

and of course, i knew what you meant and how you intended it; as always i appreciate suggestions even if we're all just making it up as we go along :-)

By Blogger e3, at 12:17 PM  

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"it is hard to be brave," said piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal." rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

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this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

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if you're new, you can browse the archives to catch up. and don't forget to watch a few movies that i made while we were in the neonatal intensive care unit. or if you want the abridged version and you can find a copy, you can read about his adventures in the november 2005 issue of parents magazine.



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