Our discipline philosophy includes the word “no”. It also includes explaining to our child why we expect a certain behavior, or why she is not allowed to do something. Continuing with our “start as you mean to go on” post and philosophy, we started this early. Really from day 1 we have been taking the time to explain things to Caroline and also expose her to the word “no”.
There are times that I felt silly doing all of the above, when clearly she didn’t understand me yet. I viewed it as her and I both getting practice, however. So, even when I knew she didn’t understand, I went ahead and explained things to her.
Now that she is 1 year old, I can clearly see that she does understand much more. I believe she is starting to understand what “no” means at this point, and she has little toddler tantrums when she isn’t allowed to do something. There are times that she simply ignores me, and I wonder if she really does understand. Below I have a list of some things that she clearly understands, however. Knowing that she understands these phrases makes it easier for me to realize that she probably understands “no” as well at this point.
She understands simple tasks. Caroline understands when we…
Ask her to come over to us.
Ask her to put something in a specific location.
Ask her to put away her toys in a specific location.
Tell her we are going out and to please go get her shoes. (she goes over to where we put them on)
Tell her it is naptime/bedtime.
Ask her if she is ready for her nap.
Ask her if she is “all done” at the table.
Ask her if she wants “up”.
Ask her to share.
Ask her to give kisses.
Ask her to be gentle.
Ask her if she wants a bath. (she goes to the bathtub)
and much more…
She also understands simple “commands” as I’ll call them. She understands when we say…
“Touchdown” that she is supposed to put her hands in the air.
“High five”, she gives a high five.
“How old are you?”, she puts up 1 finger.
“Clap”, she claps.
“Dance”, she dances.
As a result, I have to assume that when I ask her to be gentle with something or when I tell her “no” we can’t do something, that she is to the point that she understands me- even if she doesn’t stop what she’s doing or start being gentle instead of rough, etc.
Yesterday, Caroline had her toolbox and threw it. I explained to her that we don’t throw (she’s heard it many times before). I asked her to be gentle with the toolbox (since I know she knows that term), and I used the word “no”. She did this about 5 times. I repeated my explanation, and told her no each time. Each time I was a little more stern with my voice. She chose to ignore me. So, on the fifth time, I took the toolbox away and put it up on the table. She was extremely upset and threw a little tantrum. I also took the opportunity to tell her that I know how frustrating it can be to not get something you want. I made sure she knew that I understood how she felt. I explained to her how this could have been avoided as well. I then redirected her attention to something new and explained that, while she couldn’t have the toolbox back, she could play with any of her other toys. She calmed down and after several minutes of calm playtime, I put the toolbox back on the floor. She obviously is not to the point that she understands everything I am saying yet. She doesn’t understand when I explain to her that I understand she is frustrated and that it is ok to feel that way. I say it anyway. I want to be in the practice of saying these things, and for her to be used to hearing me.
This was my first time having to take a toy away. While she didn’t listen when I asked her to be gentle, I do think this was a good experience for her and for me. We will focus on being consistent and clear with her. She is now old enough and understands so much, that my expectations are growing with her. She is going to be allowed to cry and work it out. I will help her through it, of course, but since she understands so much, she will not simply get what she wants simply because she is crying. It is hard to not give in, but it is worth it to get the desired outcome and positive behavior. Again, consistency is going to be key. We’ll update more as we have more and more experiences to share!