Monday 11 June 2012
I'm one of those mothers - part 1
Disclaimer: This is what happened with my little family but each family is different and what worked for us might not work for everybody...you get the concept.
Anyway, you should also know that I don't know what I'm talking about!
Recently, when attending baby gatherings (library, clinic, restaurant, etc.) with kids of Alice's age, there is always the same buzzing sound: no, ...! no, ...! no,...!
Oh, I'm not talking about the "no phase" associated with toddlerhood. I'm actually referring to "no phase" that parents have when their babies transitioned from docile creatures to little explorers that are slowly discovering their independence and sense of confidence.
It seems that pretty much every initiative results in a patronizing "no" and a sentence mostly composed of very abstract words that probably sound like "blah blah blah" to a young toddler's ears.
Negativity is fu**ing draining for the parents and fu**ing frustrating for the kids. And from my observations, it doesn't seem to be very efficient.
So I decided, with my limited knowledge of child psychology, to turn this new phase into a more positive learning moment. I know that it sounds naive and that experienced parents will tell me that the "rebellion phase" is inevitable...and I will totally agree with them but I will try as much as I can to embrace Alice's need for autonomy while keeping her safe and "civilized" (I'm one of those mothers - part 2)! However, I believe that when toddlers (or even adults) hear no, ...! a million time a day, well, it is normal to get pissed off!
So I did an experiment with the little lady and my jaw dropped with satisfaction.
Alice has a delightful interest in opening the garbage bin lid (take things out of it) and the toilet seat (put things in it). GROSS! For the past few weeks, every time, I would say no, ...! and she would do it again and again and again with this little provocative face (it is very cute by the way but this is not the point).
So I did a bit of reverse psychology. During an entire day, pretty much every activity that we did had an "opened versus closed" concept with, obviously, a hell of a lot of positive reinforcement for the "close". The day after, as she was standing next to the garbage bin, she opened just a little bit the lid and looked at me with expecting eyes (but not provocative). I calmly said "close". Immediately, she closed the lid and with a big smile welcomed many "bravo Alice" (it also worked with the toilet and we are currently dealing with the cat box...GROSS!).
Anyway, I think that an overdose of "no" from parents is like a badly managed pacifier. Eventually, its initial purpose become obsolete and you are stuck with another problem (ok, is it time to read the disclaimer again, ah?).
I think that for the moment, I will save the no, ...! for times when Alice's safety is in danger.
p.s. there is a nice article on Why Toddlers Always Say "No" that claimed that a recent study in Child Development showed that 2-3-year-olds argue with their parents 20 to 25 times an hour! Wow, this is intense!
Illustration by Licorice Whip
* * * * *
I feel super bad that I neglected answering your lovely comments. As of today, I will go back to answer them at the end of the following post.
For those who asked, I used "artistic" latex paint for Alice's abstract painting. I just made sure that she didn't make any holes in the bag with her teeth.
Oh, and yes, I do have big windows (living in an old factory) for my herb garden!