Tuesday, October 8, 2013

3 Words Every Toddler Should Know

I don't know if this is going to be a very popular post but I had to get this off of my chest. There are 3 words that every toddler should know: hot, stop, and NO! These are safety words.

I am going to start with "No!" because I think a lot of parents are afraid of that word. It has a bad reputation. I really can't figure out why. I am trying to imagine a world where no person was ever told no before. There are rules and laws all around us that begin with the word "NO" and it is our job to teach our children to be good citizens who obey the law. That begins with them learning to obey us. I don't tell my children no because I want to micromanage their little lives or take away their rights as humans. I tell them no because I need to keep them safe and my words can reach where my hands sometimes can't. I tell them no because I can't allow them to infringe on other peoples rights or endanger the safety of others.

I think that "no" has been confused with "don't" as in "Don't hit your brother," Some people say to a toddler, "No hitting." Both of those are not the best thing to say to a child when you are teaching them to not hit. You should never tell a child what NOT to do. You should tell him what TO DO. "Nice hands" is what I tell my toddlers and demonstrate how to gently touch a person's arm. However, if I am halfway across the room, shouting, "NICE HANDS!" at a toddler does not work. "Nice hands" should always be said pleasantly along with a demonstration. The word "NO!" grabs their attention and gives you time to get to them and intervene. Tell your child what it is that you want them to do instead and since I am talking about toddlers here, you want it to be a simple and direct command. Sitting down with a toddler and saying, "I am really disappointed in you because you chose to hurt your friend. That was not nice. I expect more from you. You need to come over here and....." I have seen conversations like this where I stop listening and I am not a toddler who let's face it, has the attention span of a gnat. Those are great conversations to have with a 5+ year old. Toddlers need your instruction to be short and simple. Get down on their level, look them in the eyes and say, "Keep your spit in your mouth," "Teeth are for biting food not friends" etc. But when they are out of arms reach, you need to be able to reach them with words. A short loud word that every animal and man around the world understands, "NO!"

What do you say when your child is about to run out in front of a car? Every one of my children have done it. They do it for the same reason that you and I have done it, we are wrapped up in our own thoughts and not paying attention. It happens. The first thing that might slip out of your mouth is the word, "NO!" I don't blame you. "No I don't want you to get hit by a car," "No I don't want to lose my child." "No this can't be about to happen." That is probably what will be running through your head if you are anything like me anyway. What you need to yell is "STOP!" It does not come natural though, not to you and not to your kids unless you practice it. I start playing 'stop and go' with my kids as soon as they can walk. They need to freeze as soon as they hear the word. Again I am not doing this to have mind control over my kids. I am teaching them this to keep them safe! You might be wondering why you can't yell "STOP" to the child hitting, the child biting, etc... The answer is because this word needs to be reserved for danger to themselves not danger to others. When your child is climbing on a bookshelf you need to be able to yell, "STOP" and know that they will freeze in place until you can get to them and help them down safely. Then you get on their level, look them in the eyes and say, "Keep your feet on the ground"

Babies learn pretty fast what the word, "hot" means. I know I am not the only one who thought I blew on his food enough and as soon as it reached his mouth he panicked. "HOT! HOT! Oh baby I am sorry! Was that too hot?!" Even if you have not accidentally burned your child's mouth, the word "HOT!" draws immediate attention. This word is what I yelled across a room at my 9 month old niece who was about to put her finger in my electrical socket. She jumped back so fast. She was clearly startled. She cried and cried. I hated to startle her but I will never regret yelling that. My words were able to reach where my hands could not. I saved her from being electrocuted. Now I have socket covers in every plug in my house but 2 years ago I did not and when I go to a friend's house, they might not. When I got to the doctor's office, they don't have socket covers. Outside of my "childproof" home all I have are words and good habits to keep my children safe.

  1. Twizzler learned how to subtract 9 the easy way by subtracting 10 and adding 1. 
  2. Skittles is learning how to round numbers to the nearest 100. 
  3. In English we talked about nouns that tell what something is. 
  4. In history, we read about Timothy Smith who started growing rice in South Carolina about 200 years ago. 
  5. In science we learned about Thomas Jefferson's study of plants and animals in Virginia. Then we drew a picture of a flower and named its parts. 

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