In continuum of my last post about why your child doesn’t listen to your NO, lets now talk about how to discipline your child or get him NOT to do certain things.
We have established that saying NO usually has contrasting effects. The child ends up doing the task. Your consistent persistence of using NO has him immune to that word. He basically stops taking your NOs seriously.
I had promised some alternative options to NO in my next post and I had my inbox flooded with requests to publish my next post fast!!!! So here I am!
- Don’t tell the child what NOT to do. Instead tell him what he CAN do.
This is a golden rule for getting your child to listen to you. For Eg, you have a child who is not sharing his pink crayon with her friend. Instead of telling her to NOT be such a bad girl tell her, “ I know this is your favorite crayon. Which color do you want to share instead? Let’s give your friend that.” By giving her the choice to pick out what she wants to share, you have made her believe that she has taken that decision on her own. And usually kids are way too egoistic to go back on something they feel that they have decided on their own!
If your child is throwing a howling fit for no reason don’t tell her to NOT cry. Instead tell her what she can do. “Honey I know that you are upset but crying is such a waste of time. I have so many fun things you can do. And so many nice things you can eat in this time that you are wasting by crying.” By interrupting her incessant loop of crying, you have diverted her thought process. You could also start playing with her favourite toy to catch her attention. Or bring out her favourite biscuits to divert her.
- Say it out loud that you understand his frustration.
As you might have noticed above that the two basic examples I have given start off by asserting the baby’s frustrations. Yes I know you are upset. Or yes, I know you don’t want to share.
Asserting your baby’s fears will get you both on a level playground. She knows that you are talking from experience coz you know what she is feeling. She is more likely to listen to the solutions you offer her after that.
If you say that I never used to cry like this or look at your friend..she is sharing her toys with you- you are just putting your baby on the backfoot and distancing her from reason and logic. She is going to go into self-defense mode where its not easy to make her understand anything.
- Explain the perils involved in simple and logical terms.
Climbing on a high stool is something you should totally train your kid not to do. You can use her doll to show her how the doll hurts herself when she falls off the stool. And then give her an option- give her a baby chair she can climb or a smaller stool or any other alternate.
- In case of foreseen events prepare your child
Shouting at an already howling kid is just so painful! To prevent an emotional breakdown when you least need it, try to prepare your child in advance as much as you can.
If you are a working mother and you know that you have to leave for a few day’s office trip, start preparing your child a week in advance. No matter how young or old he is.
Get your suitcase and leave the house and tell him mommy is going on a plane and will be back. Take a round of your apartment complex and be back in ½ hour. Stretch this exercise for 1 hour next. A few hours the next time. So that by the time you really have to leave, your baby knows that suitcase mommy always comes back. You have rested her insecurities well in advance for her not to throw a fit the minute she sees your suitcase.
You could also prepare your newborn this way for office when your maternity leave is coming to an end. Though you might feel that a 3-6 month old doesn’t feel much, you cant be more than wrong. Insecurities are some things that are to be taken care of from Day1. Having a secure child profits in the long run! Again “dealing with insecurities” is another post topic!
That’s my final step in my denial algorithm. If nothing really works, there is the good old method of distraction. Younger babies are easier to distract with a simple cartoon or TV. You need to get a bit creative with older babies. But distraction does wonders. Coz your toddler has a limited attention span.
There are those times (many times infact) when your toddler just seems incorrigible. You have to resort to sternness and a firm NO. I know that by experience. But no matter what you do and how many of the tips given above you use, there are two absolutely GOLDEN RULES of saying NO that you just have to follow:
- Never soothe a crying baby with some gift or candy:
You are just reinforcing crying in your child if you offer him candy or toffees or give him a new toy to soothe him if he starts howling after you deny him something.
He will use crying to get his fav toy every time then. Right now its just a candy so it might not seem bad. But once he is a teenager, the chocolate will be replaced by an X-BOX, when he is an adult it will be replaced by an iPhone and when he is in twenties it might just manifest into something much more ugly or huge. So stop him Day 1. Don’t soothe bad behavior by “rewards” like candies.
- No matter how long or how many times, stick to your stand:
You have to show your kid that you mean what you say. So once you have denied her something, stick to it. The child will ask you a 100 times. You have to deny her 101 times. But you cant ever ever never cave in. It might take a few times to get the message across. But your baby will soon realize that a NO is a no. No amount of screaming, howling or foot stomping will get mommy to change her stand!
- Analyze whether a situation really requires a NO or not.
It takes mountains of patience to keep your NO stand, I know. That’s why I say that as much as possible where a NO is not required don’t say it. Or you will have to spend hours reinforcing your stand! Quite a herculean task!
Once you get into a habit of not denying almost everything, you will see that mostly a NO was not required in the first place. What you baby wants is some adventure and some answers to his curiosity. Mostly it will not end up in stitches or mishaps. So let him be!
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