According to this article published in Redbook, the average toddler hears the word “no” 400 times a day. If the average toddler spent more time with me, she/he would hear things like, “Let’s not do that” and “Don’t you want to do this instead of that?” Total wussy mom. I want a respectful, amazing child, but man do I have to work through my whole aversion to discipline.
I’m going to be a good American girl and blame this on my own mommy. Any toddler who spent as much time with my mother as my K does would hear 400 “no’s” in addition to all of the following:
* “Don’t fall down, gonna get a boo-boo!”
* “Be careful!”
* “Watch how you sit in that chair!”
* “Don’t run!”
* “You’re going to trip on the rug if you walk that fast.”
* “You’re going to get a splinter if you don’t put on your shoes.”
* “Brrrr…it’s cold, where’s your hat? Did mommy forget to put you in an undershirt?” (It’s 60 degrees outside)
I feel I have to pepper each of these rants with the obligatory–Holy crap, my mother is saving my life by watching K while I work. Which is true. She is.
But our parenting styles differ greatly and I’m trying to find painless ways to recommend to her that she not fill K’s head with morbid ideas about the countless dangers pervasive in our universe. Do I really want K to grow up and, like me, imagine she has 8 forms of cancer on the basis that “something around her waist area” hurts?
I heard the word “no” regularly as a child. Every answer to every question was “no.” Do I think it screwed me up? Probably not. Do I think it’s odd when parents refuse to ever say “no,” as if it’s a dirty, shameful word? Yes, a little. Regardless, I would much rather maintain a positive home environment, and I am wondering lately if it would be enough to subtly model some of these Redbook suggestions in the hopes that my mother will catch on? Or do I have to have an uncomfortable talk with her–the mere thought of which makes me want to slap myself because (as I mentioned before) she is saving my life by watching K..?
I will paraphrase Redbook’s suggestions on how to discipline children without saying “no:”
1. Instead of saying “no, you can’t so this,” explain why the action shouldn’t be done (example: “We only eat dessert after dinner so that we don’t fill up.”) By the way, do you love my wussy way of saying “we” instead of “you?” It’s a teaching trick I use to make my 8th graders think I am on their side…
2. When your child misbehaves, explain your feelings to him/her. (Example: “It hurts mommy’s feelings when you purposely rip up her term paper. Mommy is going to grad school to make your life better–if it were up to her she’d be drawing in a whopping $4 an hour to write professionally. Don’t make mommy feel bad.”)
3. Provide choices. If your child is doing something you don’t like–such as dragging a blue crayon across a white wall, as K did last night–offer him/her the option of either sitting at the table with her crayons, or–I’m thinking, I’m thinking, what could be more fun than coloring a wall?–I’ll get back to you on that one.
4. Show, don’t tell. Here’s one suggestion that makes sense to me. Instead of saying, “Don’t kick mommy in the tummy when she’s changing you,” take her little hands and pat them gently against your tummy. Show him/her what you want instead of shouting about what you don’t want.
5. Develop a mean voice and look. My husband is the master at this. I’m still working on not laughing every time K does something ridiculous.
Overall, I have some issues with numbers 1 and 2, like 3 and 4, and can’t master #5.
Feel free to send your wussy mom discipline tips my way!