Posts Tagged ‘discipline’


One of Baboo’s clearest and most frequent words is No. This has sparked an ongoing debate in our house: Does he say it so much and so well because we say it to him so often, or is he merely learning to use language to assert his will?

I’m in the latter camp, because he uses it to get to “yes,” for example, telling me which book he wants to read by rejecting all the ones he doesn’t want. He does know the word “yes,” by the way. He just doesn’t always choose to use it. It’s baffling, and we’re saying “yes” to him more often now, but still, his default is “no.”

He also uses No to double-check that something he’s been told not to do is still off-limits. It’s really cute, actually: He’ll caress the trash can while pouring his soul out through his eyes and mournfully uttering a soft “No?”

Meanwhile, the aforementioned debate has created an awareness in my disciplinary language that I like, spawning a litany of phrases that mean No. These tend to be either strings of nonsense sounds like “ah-ah-ah-ah-ah,” or a positive casting of a negative request, like, “That’s Mama’s cup” instead of “Don’t touch that.” I have to admit to feeling a little funny about the latter approach because I have been known to mercilessly mock those who avoid saying No to their kids at all costs.

I’m not taking it that far, though — just reserving No for dangerous things like the oven and outlets (or when it just pops out of my mouth). Pretty much everything else I might use a No for falls into the category of limit-setting, and distraction tactics are often more effective for that. My favorite so far is “Where’s your baby?” closely followed by “Would you like this cup/spoon/yogurt tub?”

And then of course there are situations where neither a No nor distraction works. The best example is Baboo’s favorite new trick: Kicking like mad on the changing table. If I say No, he says it right back to me and goes back to kicking. My Stern Mama Face has zero effect. And he thinks it’s so fun that distracting him from it is nigh impossible. So now I’m trying a technique I used with my dogs: ignore the behavior you don’t want.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

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