May 3, 2013 6 Comments
Today I received email responding to my recent article on child discipline and asking me to take a look at this article: 10 Alternatives to Saying No to Your Child. That’s some good advice! I’m glad to see it on a site that helps people find jobs as au pairs (childcare providers who live with the family, usually in another country) because I know that many people in that line of work have limited experience working with young children, so they need good, detailed strategies. I agree with all the basic ideas in the article, but I also have a few tips on the subject to share.
The idea of “alternatives to saying No” is not that it’s bad to tell a child what she shouldn’t do. There are many times when it’s necessary to stop a certain behavior. The idea is to do it in a positive way when you can, instead of just hollering, “No!!” all the time.
Imagine living in a place where you don’t know the language or customs. Dozens of times a day, people say a certain short word to you. You hear this word in lots of different situations. How long would it take you to understand what the word means?
That’s how it is for babies and toddlers. It takes them a long time to understand that “No” sometimes means, “Stop pulling my hair!” and sometimes means, “Stay out of the kitchen!” and sometimes means, “Don’t sit on the cat!” and so on and so forth. Using more specific words helps them to understand which word means what. You can see this in a toddler’s response to a negative command that uses words he recognizes: You say, “No, you can’t have a cookie,” and he grabs a cookie–not because he is willfully defiant but because “cookie” is the only word in that sentence that has a clear meaning to him, so he’s thinking you just acknowledged his desire for a cookie. Tell the kid what you want, not what you don’t want. Read more…