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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lessons In Reasoning with a Two Year-old

Last week, I decided to try an experiment in discipline involving explaining to Noelle why I do or don't want her to engage in certain behaviors.

I'll begin this follow-up post with a quote from the comment section of the last post:

My friend and pseudo-big sister Erika Hettinger wrote, "If I may suggest...The true power of these conversations is having them BEFORE the behavior occurs. So, having the same exact same conversation that you had about Baby E~, but on the WAY to Baby E~'s house..."

Yes, yes, yes, yes! That was a major part of a two part discovery in this one week experiment.

On Monday morning Noelle, Dwayne and I sat around the breakfast table talking. "Noelle, guess who we're going to see today?" This is the way I start every Monday before we visit Baby E and his big brother and sister.

But that morning I wanted to remind her of the conversation we'd had last Monday about sharing. So I broached the subject. I reminded her about sharing with Baby E. She made the same irritated faces (Dwayne is witness to these expressions!).

"And if big brother takes a toy away from you, just let his mommy take care of it, okay? We don't need to throw a tantrum and cry. We just find a different toy." Yadda yadda the conversation went along like this for just a minute.

The result? Playtime was much more enjoyable this week! At least I felt alot more at ease. I sat next to Noelle and when Baby E took a toy I reminded her to let him have it. No tears.

The critical moment came when the big brother, a year older than Noelle, took a toy out of Noelle's hands. Last week this resulted in the worst tantrum of all, Noelle on the floor bawling, red face, big angry tears.

Immediately, Noelle screeched and started running after big brother "wait, wait!" she said in a little voice. I crouched down beside her and said, "Noelle, let his mommy take care of it," and I could say this because thankfully C-'s mommy is right on top of things. This makes my job with Noelle easier. I'm not sure what I'd tell Noelle to do with children who grab things at school or the playground, but for this situation, in this home, it's nice to know that my friend and I are on the same page.

Noelle stopped and looked at me. "Let's find another toy!" I chirped and she moved on. She was like, "no big deal." Tantrum evaded. It was a really exciting moment for me.

Okay, so my conclusion is exactly what Erika said: explaining before the behavior occurs seems to be a really powerful tool.

Conversely, I ran across a situation last week where explaining in the middle of the behavior did not go so well.

Cut back to the high chair at dinner time: Noelle was back to her old tricks throwing food off the tray. I took her out of the seat, told her "no." Said that I did not want her to throw food on the floor and why.

I put her back in the seat, gave her the food back, she looked at me and quick as a flash threw her sippy cup on the floor.

"Oh no you didn't!" I said staring her down. She promptly went into time out.


Blogger Erika Hettinger said...


9:50 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

I love hearing the process! I'm linking to the first post today on my blog (hope you don't mind). It's interesting hearing other people's stories and thoughts. :)

4:56 AM  

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