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Monday, April 20, 2009


I've been a mom for almost eight years now, but I never "got it" until baby number three, my Beastie.

Beastie does not understand the concept of negative. I think it's selective deafness. It doesn't matter what it is - if I tell her not to do something, she will do it.

Me: Don't draw on Mommy!

Her: What? You want me to draw on you, Mommy? Well let me go get the biggest, brightest, purplest marker I can find!!

or another scenario...

Me: Please don't take your diaper off.

Her: Oh, look! Mommy's friends are visiting! Howsabouts I take my diaper off and parade my naked self through the living room!

and another...

Me: Yo Gabba Gabba's not on today, honey.

Her: YESSSSSS! Yo Gabba Gabba's coming on! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba! Gabba!

I have to talk to her very slowly and specifically, and I can never use negatives. Instead of "Yo Gabba Gabba isn't on," I say "Yo Gabba Gabba is OFF." Or in the case of the marker: "Draw on PAPER, please."

I think the child experts have been saying stuff like this for years, that you should avoid using negatives. I personally think child experts are total bullshit, so I don't read them, but I'm sure they've known about this forever. Think about how many meltdowns you can avoid by just removing the negative from your vocabulary! I bet "not" is a word that children can't understand until they're older, say twenty-five or so. This totally explains why they always do the opposite of what you tell them.

When your 4 year old asks for a cookie, instead of saying "no," say "How about a piece of cheese?" or "Great news! Dinner's in ten minutes!"

Or maybe you have a beastly Beast like me. When she is throwing a tantrum because you, god forbid, won't let her 20 month old self drink soda pop, say "LOOK WHAT I FOUND! MAGICAL JUICE!" and give her a nice cup of watered down JuicyJuice. If she insists, put a straw in it.

I'm annoyed at myself for not figuring this out sooner. I could have saved myself years of hassle.


Zeemaid said...

*LOL* knowing it and practicing it are two very different things. :)

parentingBYdummies said...

Good for you! I'm on baby #3 also and I just discovered the magic of positive reinforcement. I guess I always knew it would work, but I forgot to use it when #2 was screaming he hates me, kicking his brother, and trying to ride our 30lb dog. Now that he's four and a little (emphasis on a little) less impulsive and more obedient I can remember some of the good mom tactics I read about before I became I mom. Better late than never, right:)

Jennifer said...

I'm going to try this tactic on my husband.