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Let's Talk Babies!

Discipline

NO NO NO NO

As parents it is the one word we feel like we say most often.  It is the word we get so tired of saying it we wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to say it ever again. NO. No you can’t have cookies before dinner.  No you can’t stay up past your bedtime.  No you can’t break curfew.  No you can’t borrow the car.  No you can’t hit your brother.  No you can’t use bad words like that.  No you can’t….and the list goes on and on and on and on.

Being the mother of a 2 year old I use more than my fair share of the word “NO”.  Some days are worse than others.  Some days I can actually get through the whole day without having to use the word “NO” much at all.  Other days, well other days I might as well record the word “NO” and just play it on a continuous cycle!!  What I have learned in my short time of being a mom is that I get a better response if I am creative with my use of the word “NO” or if I spin into a positive somehow.  Changing things up a bit breaks up the monotony and saves me from feeling like all I ever do is say “NO”.

Kids get tired of hearing the word “NO” as much as we get tired of saying it.  As time goes by our “NO” loses it’s punch and our kids start ignore those “NO’s” they hear over and over again.  Kids like to hear “YES” every now and then.  They like to feel like there are things in this world that they are allowed to do.  We can understand that can’t we, I mean adults like to hear “YES” every now and then too, we all do.  By being a little creative with our use of the word “NO” we can all get a little bit of what we want.  So, here are a few creative ways to spin your use of the word “NO” so that you say “NO” less often and “YES” (or something else positive) more often.

  • Instead of saying something like “No, you can’t do X until you have finished Y.” try saying “Yes, you can do X when you finish Y.”  It sounds easy enough, right?  I use this one a lot with my daughter.  She responds a lot better if she hears it as a positive rather than a negative.
  • If your child is doing something they are not allowed to do, say throwing a ball in the house, tell them where they can throw the ball while you are telling them can’t run in the house.  For example, “Remember,  throwing the ball is an outside game.  You can throw the ball outside.”.  It helps if you can then give them the opportunity to follow through and head outside to throw the ball around for a while.
  • Be specific when you are telling your kids to stop doing something.  Instead of saying “No throwing food” or “No whining”, etc.  Say things like “Please stop throwing your food.” or “Please use nice words to tell me what you want.”  Taking the word “NO” out of the equation may just get you better results.

The idea is to try to avoid saying “NO” so that you don’t feel like that is all you ever do and your kids don’t get tired of hearing it and stop responding to it.  Of course, in the middle of a heated moment it may be difficult to remember to spin your “NO”, but if you try to do it most of the time the few times an actual “NO” comes out won’t seem so bad.

What do you do as a parent when you get tired of saying the word “NO”?  What spinning techniques do you use?

parenting

Parenting requires a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of patience.  It requires the kind of patience that doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  It calls for the kind of patience that definitely requires a conscious effort.  Do you have the patience for parenting?

I’ve always considered myself a pretty patient person.  There are times that I can be extremely patient but, of course, there are other times when I just don’t have it in me.  I think we are all a bit like that.  Patience has always been a big part of my daily life, even before I became a parent.  My career, before becoming a stay-at-home mom, required a lot of patience.  I dealt with the public during times of trial, during times of anger and frustration.  It required that I listen patiently to my clients and gather the patience necessary to work with them to find a solution.  My clients, given that they were going through something frustrating and annoying, were, needless to say, not very patient with me or the process.  They expected results yesterday and were quick to become agitated and angry.  It took a lot of conscious effort to find the patience necessary to get the job done.  I prided myself in the patience I had under fire.  When I was pregnant with Maya I thought that my job skills would come in handy during parenting, I mean how could a child be any more difficult to deal with than some of my clients :)

Well, I quickly found out that being a parent requires more patience than I have had to use in any other area of my life.  There are days I question my ability to do this job.  Days when I question if I have the patience to make it through to bedtime.  Parenting is hard work.  Parenting a toddler is more challenging than anything else I have ever done.  It takes more skills, patience and creativity than any other job I have ever had.  It is also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  One little smile, a big hug or even just hearing the work “mommy” makes it all worth it and makes those moments when my patience was lacking simply disappear.

Keeping my cool under pressure can be tough sometimes.  I admit that I have my moments when I’ve had enough and yell because I just can’t take it anymore.  I’ve started with time outs when necessary to help Maya learn about consequences and they seem to working for the most part.  But we still have those days when nothing works.  On those really rough days when I feel like there is only one tiny string holding it all together there are a few things I try that help keep my cool, like:

  • Breathe and consider the action.  Is it just me be impatient or is this really something worth getting upset over?
  • I try to engage my daughter in activities that I know don’t usually end with trouble.  For example, my daughter loves coloring, so if things are going south I’ll suggest a coloring session or a painting session to help ease both our nerves.
  • We head out.  Some days our only option is to run an errand or do a little shopping but getting out of the house helps us both.  A change of scenery can work magic for a frustrated toddler and a frustrated mom.
  • I try to have at least 2 or 3 little adventures planned for each week.  Fun activities that can be used to encourage good behavior.  Things like our weekly playdate with our good friends, or a trip to the zoo or park if the weather is nice, or a mommy and me class.
  • If all else fails we spend a little time doing our own thing.  I’ll do a little house cleaning and she’ll watch a movie, play with her toys or read a book.

The nice thing about these days of toddlerhood are that toddlers are very distractable, change from being really mad and frustrated to be happy go lucky again in no time flat.  So even in those moments when things aren’t going so well and we are both frustrated I know that better times and big smiles are just around the corner.  I have found that keeping my cool and being patient are keys to successful, frustration-free, days for both of us.  It is sometimes easier said than done, but I do my best and that’s all we can really do in this job that has no handbook.  At the end of the day when my daughter and I are snuggling up together reading a bedtime story I know I’m doing something right.

What tricks to do you use when frustrations are high and patience is low?  How do you and your kids get through those tough days?