Ok, let me explain this one. I have a two-year-old. All of you who have or who have had or even had contact with a two-year-old know to a certain extent what this means. My toddler has quite a pleasant personality, but just by virtue of the fact that he is two, means that he's always getting into things. Add to that fact that he is the youngest of five boys, and you have some extra factors.
So, last week one day we were at home doing morning things (getting kids up, fed, off to school, etc.) and Mr. Two was having an extreme Get-into-everything day already. I found myself using lots of "don'ts" in my interaction with him. So I started being aware and wrote down all the don'ts that I said to him. Keep in mind that when I realized I was doing it, I even tried to tone it down a bit, but in the first two hours of him being up, here are the negative statements I made to him (these were not the only statements, but still...)
1- Don't suck on batteries
2- Don't use my make-up brush as a duster
3- Don't throw your oatmeal on the floor!
4- Please stop eating my breakfast
5- Don't step in the drawer (which I didn't even finish saying before the drawer shut on his leg)
6- Don't play on the computer
7- Don't whine
8- Don't pull on my arm please
9- Don't suck on the table
Wow!! That's terrible! So, how to turn this around? It seems that when children (or adults, for that matter) are always being told what you don't want them to do, it seems like that is what they do more of. Or is it just me? It's that principle that what you focus on is what you get, good or bad.
So I remembered this parenting technique that my husband and I learned in a class once: to phrase what you want so you are telling the child what to do, not what not to do. So instead of, "Don't suck on batteries," (which he LOVES to do, for some absolutely bizzare reason), I should have said, "can I have those batteries please?" and then taken them from him (with coaxing if needed and tears if necessary) and put them up. Or instead of "please stop eating my breakfast," I could have just moved him to his chair and said, "here's your breakfast," (although at that point he had already thrown his breakfast on the floor...ok, that one wouldn't work, but still, you get the point). Or I guess sometimes you don't even need to say anything--I could have just moved him away from the computer.
Well, I failed that morning, but I did try to do better and I do notice that the days that I phrase what I want to my children in a positive way, we do seem to have a better day.
I'm so grateful for the ability to notice what I'm doing and for the chance to do it better (and that my children aren't totally ruined when I mess up, which is plenty!)
Hoorah for redos!