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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 88: Stop Talking

Problem: You're talking again. And again and again and again. It's not your fault. You've been programmed. You know that why you answer one question, another is coming, and then another, and another after that. You've done this dance so many times that you can even anticipate the odd tangents your child's questions will take. So you just cut them off at the pass. However, the more you talk, the more the kids have as fodder to take issue with. The more you talk, the more likely you are to incur the illogical toddler wrath of doom. And the more you talk, the less likely it is that you'll know which one of your ridiculous statements set them off.

As an example, yesterday, Natalina asked me if we were going outside.

"No, we can't go outside because you're still sick, and  it's kind of smoky out there, from the wildfires in North Florida, not here, so we don't have to worry about fire, but smoke travels a long, long way, and smoke can really hurt your throat and your throat is already sore from the sickness, plus your not feeling well and running around out there will probably really tire you out when you need to recover. Also, it might rain, and if it does that, you'll be wet and miserable, and we can't use our raincoats and rain boots because it's cold out there today, so it's not like in the summer time when we can jump in puddles."

First of all, I don't like talking for ten minutes. Secondly, she didn't ask me any of that, I just am so used to her doing so that I launched into it without giving her the chance. Third, why the heck am I talking about puddles by the end? Fourth, she only asked me if we could go outside again right after a finished talking. Fifth, I was actually quite lucky she didn't pick one of those fragments to tantrum about. I certainly gave her enough to work with.

Solution: Shut up.

No, seriously, your tangential answers may have sufficed in the beginning, but now they're not doing you any favors. Let your kid ask the next question. Maybe she will, or maybe she'll surprise you and accept the first answer. But not only are you talking up a storm of ridiculousness all by your lonesome, you're also stopping your child's creative process. The asking of follow-up questions, as annoying as the 80th one is, shows critical thinking on your child's part. If you circumvent that, they don't get a chance to process your answer and think through their own alternatives. Reaching out and connecting thoughts is important at this age, as is learning how to bargain and think their way out of tough situations. Don't hamper it. It's better to be quieter than to talk for 30 minutes straight.

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