As I walked down the streets of Frankfurt the other day and saw a sweater with these words, I laughed a lot.
Because ever since Baby Lifestylette has started to crawl, I have the impression that I am saying these words ALL. the. time.
When I change her and she grabs the nappy bin, c'est non!
When she goes for the plugs - which of course are baby-proof - and puts her fingers into them, c'est non!
When she crawls to the suitcase and tries to put the full-of-cities'-dirt-wheels into her clean little mouth, c'est non!
When she makes for the bookcase and pulls out books, boxes, etc., c'est non!
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
After a good laugh though, this got me thinking...do I actually say 'non' too often?
As you may recall, she is a totally desired child and a true gift we thought would never even be possible. Yes, we love her to bits. But she does need to learn some limits of what she can and can't do, what is dangerous for her and what not.
So how to cope with being as permissive as possible, but show her gently limits and not say 'non'?
Indeed, I do believe that first by saying 'non' all the time, it will completely lose its meaning and she will not be able to tell the difference between a little meaningless mischief and a real danger.
But also, being negative all the time - or a lot - with her might just stop her from wanting to continue to discover the world and learn. Just the thought of this makes me really sad. She is such a happy little person, it would be heart-breaking.
So I came up with some tricks and tips to stop saying 'non' all the time which I am trying to apply...
- Move objects away
Typically that applies to the nappy bin. It is so easy to just put dangerous objects or in this case those which you really really don't want to fall down and spill all over and have to clean up, out of her reach.
Less temptation for her, less stress potential for you.
- Explain something is dangerous
This I am trying to use for the 'plug-situation'. We have baby-proofed ours, however, I don't want her putting her fingers there as she is bound to repeat this at friends' houses otherwise.
I just tell her to be careful and that its dangerous in a firm tone. Some will think that she is too small to understand but, trust me, she will stop at once - even if to start again behind my back but, hey, they are safe and it is a small step already.
- Block the way
Credit for this goes to LFSTYLT husband who does this from time to time whilst cleaning up something in the corridor for instance. He just puts a chair to block her path. She will stand up and watch us and wave and we all have a good laugh but that way, we quickly tidy up the things and don't need to tell her off because she is exploring the oh-so-delicious but really dirty shoes from the streets.
- Re-organise our stuff aka good opportunity to de-clutter
When Baby Lifestylette used to go for the bookcase, I didn't really mind as she wasn't really strong enough to be pulling stuff out.
One morning, I heard all of a sudden a crash sound - all the red coins we had been collecting in a glass jar were on the floor amidst glass shards and sitting in the middle, a little scared from the noise: Baby Lifestylette.
I was at first panicked that she had got hurt, then, as soon as I was sure she was in security, was obviously pretty mad at the mess.
That was the point where I started to re-organise the things which are at her height. (and brought the coins to the bank).
We now have on the lower shelves things she can take out such as my gift-wrapping box and whilst I still have to clean up, she is so pleased to mess around with colored ribbons that it makes me laugh more than anything else.
We also have started mixing up her books on one of the lower shelves. Not only is she happy to take them out and I don't mind, but I think that it shows her that she is an integral part of the family and COUNTS. Whilst we have our books, she also has her space of her own with her books in the family book case.
- Change the wording
When I really have to say 'non', I try and change the way I say it. For some things I will say 'stop' or 'wait'.
Also - and I must admit that this is still in the trying-to-phase - I try to phrase as much as possible things in a positive manner.
For instance, when she lovingly scratches my face, instead of saying 'stop you are hurting me', I take her hand to stroke my face and say 'softly, we stroke softly'.
Or if she squishes her fruit with her hand and smothers it all over the table, instead of saying: 'don't play with your food', I try and explain to her, 'food goes into your mouth'. (maybe a 'non' still manages to makes it way in those sentences)
- Distract Baby Lifestylette
Sometimes, before I get annoyed or say 'non', I just give her another object a hairbrush, anything which will hopefully attract her attention away from the annoying object.
And sometimes I will just take her in my arms, cuddle, and sit her in another corner with, oh surprises of surprises, lots of really fun toys which are not dangerous at all.
- Integrate in my 'activities'
I really often integrate Baby Lifestylette in what I do. She helps me with everything so I adapt all the house chores.
For instance when I get the washing out of the dryer, I know she wants to help and will take everything out. So we sit together and she will take all out - I will rush to the cupboards every finished pile of folded clothes so that we are both happy and there is no need for anyone to get frustrated.
Another example: the dishwasher - she really wants to help take the clean dishes out. Before anyone gets hurt or frustrated, I now organise the bottom part in plastic and breakables. All breakables are taken out first thing, then I do the upper trays and let her help me with pans, tupperware boxes or her own cutlery.
No crying involved, and no 'non'!
I still am saying 'non', but having thought about all this makes me more aware of it every time it still slips out of my mouth and I hope that this is the first step towards stopping, right?