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Baby No! No! No!

Crawlin'.  Like a boss.
Baby L has begun to crawl beyond the borders of the carpeted area (in our living room).  She wants to go where Momma goes, and is also fascinated by everything in her world, from the zipper on my Bible cover to the wheels on her stroller to shoes and drawer handles and white tags.

There's this tension that I'm struggling with, between wanting her to feel safe to explore her surroundings and learn and grow, to wanting to protect her from darn near everything dangerous and/or dirty.  She likes to crawl to the very edge of our bed and peer over, and I'm constantly grabbing her and barking, "No! Nein! Mng-duk! Yucky! Owie! Dirty!" and every other negative imperative I can think of, in every language and dialect I can come up with.  She wants to put our shoes in her mouth and I'm master of the art of distraction and relocation.  She wants to open the drawer to our dresser and I'm pushing it shut with my feet to keep her from making any progress.

I feel like a bad cop.

And it's time to kid-proof our entire home.

But bigger than the task of safety-proofing everything is my need to find ways to help Baby L understand that not all things are beneficial nor safe, without becoming a No monster or creating one.

I've seen No monsters at work.  They're constantly harping, "No! No! No!" at their kids, warranted or not.  They sound like a broken alarm, repetitive as heck, and are supremely annoying to listen to.  Their kids also learn to tune out the No!'s and to say No! back to them during tantrums.  It's like ugly begetting more ugly.

I don't want to be that, and I don't want Baby L to become that either, so I'm trying to find alternative ways to establish boundaries while still giving her the space she needs to learn and grow.

This is not easy.

In fact, it's downright difficult.  No is just about the easiest word to say, and it comes second nature to me.  In moments of danger or when I want something to stop right away, the first word that comes to mouth (and mind) is no.  So, for me, right now it has been this incredibly challenging exercise to try to come up with alternative ways and words to help Baby L understand that pulling on the extension cord or pulling books off the bookshelf or crawling right off the bed aren't great ideas.

I've also tried to up my "Yes!" output, and my positive statements.  As a society we don't say yes enough,  and those who do use it frequently are oft perceived as people-pleasing doormats or suck-ups.  And maybe some are.  But I would argue that there are ways to phrase things in the positive (whether we mean the negative or not) that we simply have not explored because it is far easier to use the no's.  And maybe, for grown-ups, that's acceptable because it's efficient to say no.  We can no and can't and don't and shouldn't and won't all we want to other adults, I suppose, and it doesn't seem like anyone minds.

But for a 7.5 month old baby girl who is being exposed to language and the world for the first time, what impression do I want to leave her with? Do I want her to think that everything is dangerous and dirty and limit the bounds of her curiosity? Or do I want her to understand that some things simply need to be left untouched or untasted or unexplored until she's older and able to navigate them safely? Do I want her to respond with No! out of a gut instinct once she starts talking, or do I want her to temper those necessary no's with yes's and maybe's? Do I want her vocabulary to consist of lots of negative phrasing, or do I want to build her ability to respond in the positive, even when she is trying to indicate a negative idea?

Challenging, this parenthood is.

Anyway, if you have ideas to share, please let me know how you've kept the No! monster at bay.  I am all ears (and so is Baby L)!






Comments

What is it with our shoes' Ollie cannot get them to his mouth fast enough.

I read an article, (Ill try to find it and email it to you) that says to not be a no monster, but to explain the negative. "That is not for you!" "That's the kitty's food!" "That is dangerous".

We, like you, want keep the No's down to a minimum. We are trying the danger! route, but it difficult. I also let Ollie crawl wildly around one step behind him to turn him before he gets to the danger zone. Then I take him to his play area and spend time suing with him and his toys where I put a lot if effort into positive reinforcement.


It is a very delicate balance...
mazoola said…
I don't say NO often in general but specify the act that I don't like.

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