by Heidi Green
March 30, 2012
Now that Max is walking—a sight that still surprises me—he’s hardly ever still. He’s walking, pseudo-running, bounce-dancing, and getting into anything he can get at.
On his tiptoes, Max is tall enough to reach the higher bookshelves. Some part of all tabletops. My desk. Surfaces that we didn’t have to worry about when he was crawling on hands and knees that are now high-risk areas.
I find myself engaging in mini safety orientations with the children almost daily, reminding them to mind their art supplies. “Keep your scissors away from the edge,” I say. “Get the caps back on your markers.” “Make sure you put your pencils away.”
But the bigger kids aren’t the only ones getting more safety reminders these days. Max is, too. Michael and I both find ourselves saying “no” much more often these days. In fact, saying “no” at all to him is new to us; throughout his infancy, Max’s needs were straightforward and we always met them without any issues. Added mobility and a growing curiosity have been game-changers. Although our toddler can do—and reach—so many more things, that doesn’t mean he always should, and we have to communicate reasonable limitations to him.
Whenever possible, we try to couch the “no”s in positive language. “Positive-negative-positive” is the simple rule of thumb. For example, if Max is pulling books off of the shelf (again!), I might say, “I know you think that’s fun, but I don’t want you to make that mess. Come knock over blocks instead.” If he grabs an unintended marker, I say, “You might be an artist someday, Max, but not today. Let’s leave that for the bigger kids and play some peek-a-boo instead.”
The exception here, for me, is when the undesirable action is safety-related. A loud, sharp “No!” was the first word out of my mouth when I looked up from my seat in the living room to see Max’s fingers closing around the handle of a pair of scissors left on the dining room table. (Immediately, of course, I dashed across the room to remove them). But he had stopped at the sound of my voice, probably because he doesn’t hear “no” so clearly and firmly very often.
Dr. Sears offers a list of suggestions for how parents can say “no” positively, and I find we have intuitively have adopted many of his practices over the years. As Max reaches this age of curiosity, when he is still too young to understand the possible consequences of his impulsive reaching, we’re getting a—fourth!—crash course in toddler safety, and staying positive through it all.
For tips on childproofing your home, click here.
Parenting four children between the ages of 51 weeks and 8 years keeps Heidi Green busy! Add in husband Michael, paid work and volunteer work, and life becomes a juggling act. Check in with us every week to find out how she manages (or not), and what she learns in the process.
Copyright ©2013 baby gooroo, inc.