Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Positively yes

I am so unbelievably lucky to have a (mostly) happy, (mostly) easygoing kid. She is funny, she is kind, and every day she's learning more and more.

I alternate reading Zombie Apocalypse Books with books on child development and parenting. (This is my idea of balance, in case you were curious.) I'm reading Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, and Dr. Nelson emphasizes the need to think beyond "no" when it comes to discipline.

Children need boundaries, yes. But they also need to know that there are other possibilities, and that there is are options other than "yes" and "no". At my last job, my entire world was predominantly "Yes" and "Let's try something else," with only the occasional, "no". Our lives are structured (at least in part) by language; hearing "no" all the time creates a limited worldview.

We certainly say our share of "no"s ("No knives!" "No scissors!"), but this way we're not all "no" all the time. The "no" train runs both directions, which is why we're working on our language choices. I like to think of it as an exercise in creative, on-your-toes problem-solving. (My favorite is when Andrew says, "Let's redirect!" to Genevieve.)

I find myself saying things like, "We need to be kind with our hands/feet/teeth," and "We sit on our bottoms in chairs," and "Plates stay on the table." I'm telling Genevieve what she *should* be doing, instead of what she *shouldn't*. 

Despite our drastic reduction in "no"s, a serious downfall with raising Genevieve multilingual is that we have gotten "NO!" in not one, but THREE languages (Mom's favorite being the angry "NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!"). Even so, we get WAY more "yeah"s, which I really and truly believe is because we're able to say it freely, and you know. Mousie see, Mousie do.

"Do you have a wet diaper?"
"Yeah." (Sometimes this isn't true. She's only 17 months old.)

"Would you like some cheese?"

Hearing "yeah" from a toddler is like a choir of angels, and cuter than a litter of puppies sleeping in a pile. I'll admit to asking her questions just to hear her answer in her tiny little voice.

"I love you. Do you love me?"


  1. I did ask her if cold fusin was possible....

  2. This is really inspiring to read, having a 16 months old son myself. And your little one is super cute!

    All the best,
    Anna (AnnaMaggie at Ravelry and Instagram)

  3. Being a parent is exhausting enough. Feeling like you're the ogre who has growled NOOOO NOOO NOOO all day long makes it not only exhausting, but also disheartening. Thank you for reminding me to instruct rather than restrict - it's more work, but worth it.

    As they get older - mine are 10 and 12 - I feel it's even MORE crucial AND they can work with you on creative solutions.

  4. I remember using rhyming things to teach that we don't stand on chairs at the dinner table: "Sit or Kneel, that's the deal." Also "Feet don't eat" to keep the tootsies off the table. Nice post, reminds me that I still need to look for Yes with older kids, cuz nobody wants to say/hear No all the time and it's so easy to get stuck there!

  5. She is getting sooo big! Just love her "piggies". ;-)

  6. Hearing kiddos talk is SO ADORABLE. I love their tiny voices. We say "gentle" a lot when my 10 mo old tries to touch faces or other babies or tug hair.

  7. Such a cutie!!
    And I love the mental image of Gigi correcting (in those moments when only a 'no' will do) in German! Nothing means business like "NEIN!" :)

  8. I agree with your standpoint on different versions of No. Although it is still very hard not to say "No!" when I see my 2yo son climbing a tall ladder and I thought my heart would stop.

    And I smiled when I read about the three versions of No... Timothy says three versions too: "Ngga!!!" "No no no!" (the English version is somehow always accompanied by a wagging index finger) and "Bu! Bu!" in Mandarin... Sometimes I wonder if human nature is based on negativity, because before he could say yes, he learned how to say no first.

  9. I loved this post. My granddaughter is 15 months, so verey close in age. Man, she has NO down pat. Complete with head shake and waving arm back and forth in the no way! I swear she didn't get this from anyone, it was innate :>) Really. She hears the normal amount of corrections in the form of no, but nothing extreme. She's just a natural. So lately , we've all been teaching the yes head nod and the word to go along with it. She thinks it's a fun game. She now says yeah and her sweet head goes up and down instead of back and forth! Until something doesn't go her way!!

  10. This is awesome, and you have scored a major victory learning this early on, with child #1!

  11. Great post ! I love the " lets redirect" phrase. I bet this will work at work with adults wonderfully.


If you'd like me to respond, please make sure to put your email address in the field. :)