I recently read that it's best not to use the word "no" too often or it will quickly lose import to my one year old son. If I said "No!" every single time Knox reached for electrical wires, tried to rip off my shirt to breastfeed in public, or reached for the substance in his dirty diapers during a change, it would come out in just about every other breath. They say on babycenter.com that he doesn't truly understand many words anyway, but he certainly gets tone.
I tend to agree with this. I've found myself using the words "young man" and "excuse me, sir" quite often and having really great results. The other day I was on the phone with my best friend Whitney and in the middle of her story, I accidentally interrupted her with a firm, "Excuse me, sir." She was baffled, it not being a video call, and surprised by my tone herself - she had no clue what was going on! Because it sounded like I was talking to an adult, and not a baby, she actually said, "I'm sorry, are you talking to Knox?" And if that got her attention, you better believe it got the attention of the baby in question, who was at that very moment on all fours leaning forward toward the dirty stroller wheel with his mouth wide open. Did he french kiss that wheel, the one he was drooling over? He didn't. It amazed even me, actually. But that firm comment was all it took to stop him, mid-way. Mouth still agape, he looked over at me as I walked toward him because I still needed to stop the behavior and remove him from the temptation. That was made obvious by the fact that before I got to him, he looked back at the tire greedily, but then back at me again when I enforced my meaning with, "young man." (click read more to read the rest of this post)
It's not going to work every time. Soon enough, "young man" and "excuse me, sir" could become as commonplace as "no" or "Knox." I just think that changing it up is good, and that a calm but firm approach works in my particular household. Plus, babies love to mimic us, so he will also see that I am employing my manners when speaking to him and will understand better in the future when he is asked to use those same manners when talking to others.
Yet still, removing the child from the situation is the very best way to keep them out of trouble... and harm.
For instance, at this very moment, my son is crawling toward me, squeezing his body into the tight space between my desk and file cabinets, heading for me and my office chair. What's the big deal? Well, his little fingers can easily get run over by the five wheels on the bottom of my chair. If I were to say, "No!" he wouldn't have a clue; so I am going to say, "Knox. Do you remember how much it hurt the last time you tried to pull up on momma's rolling office chair?"
Let's see what happens...
Hmmm... Well, that didn't really work. The unfortunate part about discipline is the ferocious cuteness these toddlers fight back with. I ask myself now, "How did Knox end up on my lap? And how mad will I be at myself if the random buttons he is pushing on my keyboard results in him deleting this blog post?"
So the best thing I've found that my hubs and I can do at this age is just remove the opportunities the young'n has for finding trouble. I just closed in the parameters of my desk and squeezed myself back into my office chair, and in doing so, I formed an impenetrable fortress for quick blogging, leaving my adorable foe to look for an alternate method of mischief making. (He hasn't figured out how to crawl over that bar yet.)
But seriously, if you see a kid headed for a situation you don't like or that could be dangerous, and there's no way you can get to them in time to pull them away, try a firm, "Young man/lady" or "Excuse me sir/miss." I'm telling ya, so far, it's worked like a charm for me. Sometimes you just need to buy yourself a few extra seconds.