You’re trying to get your child to do something. There is resistance or play or just too much delay.
In the best of moods you say “Nooooooo! Wash your hands!”
In the worst you yell “How many times do I have to tell you! Wash your hands! Now! “
Here’s why you shouldn’t do BOTH. By raising the volume, essentially you are teaching the child that you can get what you want or get others to do what you want if you talk loudly.
Consciously always talk to them in a gentle, loving tone. To let them know that no matter what you are loving to them. More importantly to model to them that loving requests are more powerful than coercion.
Children don’t get spoilt with this. They only feel respected and valued.
What can we say instead?
Looks like you would like to play for a bit longer before washing your hands. Ok. Let’s try after 5 minutes. I am setting the timer. We can play together once we are back!
How can we do this?
By consciously changing ourselves. Be gentle with everyone around you. You will be gentle with your child too. As with anything in life, practice is everything.
Visual cues help us communicate with babies before language develops and long after it does.
This is especially useful for setting boundaries that aren’t absolute.
I needed to tell my baby that playing in water is fine by day and not by night.
This is an example I personally used successfully
I cut out a piece of cardboard and stuck yellow paper on one side and black on the other.
When he woke up, we flipped the cardboard to yellow while pointing outside and saying “wow! It’s morning. It’s so bright out. Everything can be seen.” In the evenings, we flipped it to black while pointing outside and saying “it’s dark outside. Nothing can be seen.”
Every time my son asked for a water play, we pointed to the cardboard and said “ok that’s yellow. It’s morning. Let’s play.” Or “oh no! See that’s black. It’s dark outside. We can’t play now”
Within few days all we had to do was to point to the cardboard and he would understand why his request was being rejected.
Let’s get creative. Design simple visual cues and use them consistently! Have you used any? How do you communicate boundaries?
Boundary is a way of communicating, especially with a baby, what they can and cannot do. Imagine being in a foreign land. Everyone looks different, speaks a different language, eat different foods, dress differently. The list goes on. Essentially you are the alien.
How would you like to navigate such an environment? You need clear and concise directions that are repeated often enough for you to understand the language. It’s also important the message is the SAME every single time.
Your baby needs similar guidance. Simple. Concise. Clear. Consistent.
Example 1. “You can’t touch the kettle. It’s hot.” Enact blowing air from your mouth (as you would cool a hot coffee!). This helps the baby understand the words and a means for communication until their speech develops. It’s important not to let them touch the kettle even when it’s cold. “Don’t touch it when it’s hot.” How can they know without touching?
Example 2. “You can’t play with my soap. You can play with yours during your bath.” And follow through. Allow them to play during bath and at no other time.
Sometimes, a qualifier may be required. In such instances, ensure there’s a clear visual cue. For example. “The light is on. I can’t let you touch it. It’s hot “. Use this instead of “you can touch it after the light goes off. “
Another example. “The door is closed. We can’t disturb dad. He is working”. Use this instead of ” you can play with dad after he comes out of the room.”
How did you like this post? Was it informative and helpful? What else would you like to see? Let me know in your comments!
Long silences are mysterious. We can choose to ignore. Or we can choose to be intrigued.
I wonder how many of you were intrigued. 😀. But here is an explanation for those who care and those who just love reading.
The silence was intentional. Blogging is hard work. As any of you may know. As a new mother, I started writing as a way to unburden the sense of overwhelm. Also, to help moms like me figure out what I learnt the hard way.
Then comes a point in motherhood where the overwhelm abates slowly… when we really start enjoying the journey. When I reached that point, I paused. I wanted to now enjoy every moment of motherhood and rest for the remaining time.
How has it been? Marvelous! Having that hour a day to do what you want… reading a lovely book, reading random stuff, staring, walking, sleeping. One hour a day spent for myself and only myself. Can I say it was pure indulgence. 😁
Then comes a point again where you can’t be separated from what you love for long. Writing and parenting are too close to my heart to just let go. I return to it. Always do.
So here I am again. Looking to connect, to learn and share. Let’s enjoy the ride together.
Holding you, cuddling you. I wonder though. How is it possible for you to bring me such joy with just a touch, just a hug, just a cuddle, just a giggle.
I can feel the softness of your cheeks. I can’t think if a better place to keep mine.
I can feel your ribs, the shoulder blades. And I am reminded, how fragile you were when I first touched you. Just a layer of flesh over a network of delicate bones. How I feared that you might break if I held you too hard, too close.
Now I don’t fear the fragility. I embrace the gentleness that it evokes in me, the blind trust that you place in me and the knowing trust that God places in me.
I keep telling myself. This joy is short. You will grow up before I can accept it. You will not want a cuddle but a perfunctory hug. Strength will displace fragility. Independence will displace your needs.
I try not to think of that. But I know one thing for sure. I am so eternally grateful for your fragility. It has made me a mother. A gentle, caring woman. Your fragility has opened up tender feelings from deep within, breaking my shells. For that my dear, I thank you. Thank you God. For trusting me.