My son is 13 months old – which, basically means his days are spent in a constant quest to put mulch in his mouth, touch hot things, splash in the toilet, and pound on things that shouldn’t be pounded on, such as the face of the sweet librarian who was attempting to hold him. (True story).
My question is this – how do I get my son to stop these behaviors without actually telling him “no” over and over? Per our pediatrician, it’s best to reserve a sharp, “NO!” for the biggies, when you want it to really count. You know, the times when he tries to touch the oven, run into the street, or do something that might harm another person. I’m trying to stop “no” from flying out of my mouth at every turn, so that it doesn’t become so watered down it goes in one little ear and out the other.
In addition to not wanting “no” to lose its power, I don’t want to be one of those moms who just barks at my child all day long. He’s a toddler, and he should be inquisitive and lively. His way of expressing excitement is to pound his hands; he doesn’t hit faces out of malice. When he toddles around the yard and bends over to pick up a rock and tries to eat it, he isn’t doing it to make me groan and frantically finger sweep his mouth. He is curious and that is his way of exploring. I get that, and I don’t want to squelch his adventurous spirit. I also get that he can’t pound people’s faces, and shouldn’t eat our landscape. How do I find the balance? Redirect him without squelching him?
I’m finding that not saying “no” is easier said than done. Turns out, there aren’t a whole lot of synonyms for the word! For a while, my husband would say, “Cease!” which did nothing except make me laugh. We are now attempting to associate the behavior with a sensation – for example, when he starts to eat dirt, we say “yucky”. Or when he stands in the tub, we say “owie”. I’m not sure if it’s working, but so far that’s our best idea.