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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 83: Parents, Use your Words


Your kids want something that is impossible to give them, or they have to wait a minute for something, or you need them to eat before they do what they want, or any other variation of "Mom, I want," and then "no." Now they're screaming crying messes, and you're wondering why people even have children in the first place, and where did you go wrong that you can't even have a coherent conversation with a three and a half year old.


Don't say no. I mean, mean no, but don't say that word. The moment you say no, you will not be able to say another thing without being drowned out by the pure anguish of cries accompanying a child who doesn't get what she wants. This is the training phase. They'll get over this. But right now, their brains hear the word no, and everything else crumbles around them. Their world disintegrates. This is something that students earning an early childhood education degree should understand as well.

And they want this to happen. If they're not going to get what they want, their next favorite choice is to break down about it. If you explain why they aren't getting it without using the word no, they'll repeat, they'll cajole, they'll beg. Until you forget that you're trying to teach them how to converse, verbalize their arguments, and have patience. Until you absentmindedly and because you think maybe they're not understanding you, say no. Then you've done it.

Not that your child shouldn't be able to hear the word no and just accept it, but as a teaching method, right now, the world allows them to shut their minds down, and no further learning will be done. Kids need to know why things happen or don't happen. That's why they ask why so often (I assume.) So, if you take out the culmination, instead of leading with it, you've got a better shot of helping them understand why some things must be and why others cannot be. No then starts to have meaning. They'll slowly come to understand that "no" has a purpose other than to piss them off. They'll hopefully begin to trust you. Or at least listen to you in public. Which is really all I ever hope for.

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1 comment:

  1. I avoid using "No" and other negative phrasing ("Stay seated during class" instead of "Don't run around the room") in the classroom too. Some students go bonkers if you tell them flat out "No" and become difficult to work with.

    Some of my alternative phrases to "No" are "In a moment." and "Ask me again in a few minutes. [I'm helping someone else out right now & I'll get to you next or nextnext. / We're about to start something important."



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