Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Telling Your Toddler No

I have been struggling with an area of parenting lately. It has really come to the forefront since Braden started walking in September.  As you can see it has taken me a while to get a grip on the situation.

As parents we always have to make disciplinary decisions. This is not the most important thing in the life of a toddler, but the discipline scale  grows exponentially over the years. A newborn needs zero discipline. A high school student needs a lot.  So where does a 15 month old toddler fit on this scale.

Since Braden started walking he has been into everything.  I was constantly following him around saying no, no, no, no.  At first this seemed like the right thing to do.  He is a smart kid. He will learn what no means and stop doing these things.

WRONG!

Yes he is still clearly smart. Yes he knows what no means. It is actually one of is favorite words. He is constantly telling me no while vigorously shaking his head. Still my word is not the absolute law of the house in his mind like I expected it to be.

As time went by it was lovingly pointed out to me by my wife that I was saying no a lot.  I was determined for Braden to mind so I just kept on with the nightly parade of negatives even after the warning. When I said no he would learn that it meant no.  He would stay out of our things and be a good boy.

Braden continued to ignore my suggestions fairly regularly. I found myself burdened by the worry about his behavior.  Would he mind in the future? Am I raising him right? If I give in will I be spoiling him?

Then I noticed that Braden listened to Arica better than he did me.  She says no too, but she has a different way about it.  She also spends a lot of time each day encouraging the little man rather than constantly hounding him. Braden probably feels more comfortable with her rather than his ever annoying No No Daddy.

As I watched Braden play Saturday night something that Arica had been trying to get through to me finally clicked.  I am spending way too much time trying to boss Braden around, and not nearly enough time having fun with my son.

Braden is just a toddler, and he is always a good boy. He doesn't need to have a drill sergeant to keep him in line. He is still exploring the world and learning at an incredible rate.  If he kept his hands off everything like I wanted he wouldn't ever learn much.  After all what does it hurt if he plays with a few things as long as they aren't dangerous.

Since then we have had as much fun as possible. I know Arica and I will both need our disciplinarian hats in the future. To tell the truth we still need them every day. There are certain things that are off limits.  Unsafe or irreplaceable things should be off limits, but Braden should not be denied his right to curiously explore the world just because his Dad wants to be boss.

Sorry Braden. I promise to lighten up and have more fun from now on. I don't want to miss any more of these amazing toddler times being the No No Guy. Love Daddy.

17 comments:

Tom said...

You definitely have to pick your battles, or you dilute your "no" power.

Try distraction instead. I had to resort to that eventually, because my kids wore me down to a fine paste. Instead of watching my kid and telling him no continually, I'd strap him in his chair at the table and set paper and crayons in front of him. Or stick him in the bathtub. There are always safe, fun alternatives. Hang in there!

Gucci Mama said...

That's very sweet. I'm glad you had that little "light bulb" moment. It probably makes YOU feel much happier and at ease too. ;)

SAHD PDX said...

We went through the same thing with our two boys feeling like we were just saying no. One cool thing that a friend shared with me was a yes day or button day, when the little one can play with the buttons on the TV or turn the light on and off over and over again. We also have tried to remove the things they can't touch and have a go with the rest.

PJ Mullen said...

It's definitely a difficult balancing act and you can only remove so much from your home until it is basically four padded walls and blocks. I say "no" an awful lot throughout the day, but most of the time it is for good reason. I try to balance it out with playing with him and letting him know when he does something good.

Brandy said...

Im proud of you. sometimes you just gotta go with the flow

Daddy Files said...

Great post buddy.

This was one of my biggest struggles and continues to be a daily battle. I had the same exact mindset as you did, but then my wife taught me to say no and redirect his attention elsewhere. Worked like a charm.

I still find myself saying no a lot but I've learned to lighten up and that messes can be cleaned. As long as it's not dangerous, he can have it.

Manic Mommy said...

Wise, Mommy, Arica is. My mom was the one that taught me the art of redirection. Don't play with the full water glass, here's a ball! He will probably throw the ball but he would have thrown the water glass too.

And remember this phrase: "this is why we can't have nice things." Our treasure is our children.

surprised mom said...

It's hard to find a balance sometimes, when to say no and when to encourage and have fun. The no comes out of love and a way to protect Braden or any toddler from danger. I struggled with the balance myself when the girls were younger. It's really much easier when they are teens, you say no and they automatically listen. :D

Rob said...

That is cool you have cut back on the "NO". Sometimes it is necessay but sometime probably not so you need to pick your battles. I hear this alot from Melinda. You and your little man are going to be just fine.

seashore subjects said...

Yes, save your "no's" Being a parent of a teen, all the "no's" you save up will be useful in the future!

WeaselMomma said...

There is balance to to be found and you will continue muddling through to find it forever.

Katherine said...

It's so hard to find the right balance and choose the right battles. They're so curious...and love to get a reaction out of you. I try a combination of praise and discipline. This parenting thing can be tough to navigate!

otin said...

Yep, you got it all figured out! Make momma the bad cop! haha!

otin said...

Yep, you got it all figured out! Make momma the bad cop! haha!

Brian Miller said...

nice. yeah there has to be a fine balance between the two...have fun!

Melinda said...

distraction works sometimes but definitely pick your battles. Kids often look for a reaction and he's not going to get one he may move along.

Otter Thomas said...

Mom is never the bad cop. I hope she is saving that in case we have a girl in the future because I will be helpless.