About a year ago, I read a post by reanbean about “positive discipline”, part of which is telling a child what they can / should do instead of what they can’t. Say, “Hands off,” instead of “Don’t touch,” for example.
At the time, our girls were about 16 months old, and I began to try to incorporate some of the principles that reanbean mentioned.
“Hands off,” or “One finger,” [meaning you can touch something, but only with one finger] are biggies in our house.
Instead of telling the girls they can’t stand on the sofa, I tell them, “Sit on your bottom.”
Instead of telling the girls they can’t climb on the open door of their play kitchen (oddly, a frequent offense), I say, “Keep your feet on the floor.”
I try to reserve the word “no” for infractions that require immediate attention, if one of the girls is doing something that is dangerous, for example.
Yes, this may fall under “positive discipline”…or some people might dismiss it as semantics…but I think it can also be defined as being literal. Little ones don’t necessarily understand all the ways we can bend words, or the colloquialisms and idioms that color our language.
Saying, “Keep your feet on the floor” is pretty literal, and I don’t want to leave much room for interpretation in certain contexts.
Along a similar line, I had a funny exchange with Baby B a couple of days ago. “Can you help Mommy pick up these books?” I asked.
In the adult world, that of course is a nice way to ask someone to do something.
I had to laugh when Baby B replied, “No, I can’t.”
Ask a silly question, get a silly answer, Mom!
So, to my list of "semantics tricks", I’ve begun rephrasing such “requests” more directly, “B, please help Mommy pick up these books.”
This approach definitely requires some thought at times, but in a way it’s a fun challenge…it definitely makes me stop and think about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.