Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gentle Touches

It seems like a big mistake to me to get into a contest of wills with a nine-month-old, so whenever he's doing something I'd really rather he not do, my solution is the redirect. "Hey, look at this thing!" is a remarkably effective answer to pulling books off the lower shelves or grabbing the washcloth that baffles the pee fountain during a diaper change or lunging at a sleeping dog who outweighs him by thirty pounds.

But he's started doing something which I feel merits a "No" with some (eventual) expectation of understanding and self-control. Possibly this is wildly unrealistic.

He grabs the glasses off my face, or smacks me in the face, or grabs my lower lip. He's strong now, and I actually fear for the integrity of the glasses, not to mention my features. It's like he's just discovered there's a face there, despite my being in his tiny grill pretty much 24/7, and he's as excited about grabbing for it as he is about grabbing for, well, pretty much every other thing.

So far, my response has been ... Ok, mostly my response has been "Ow! Dammit!" but I recognize this is unlikely to be effective, especially as he finds it highly entertaining. So I've been saying "No glasses," or "No grabbing faces" in a stern voice and holding on to his little hands, which drives him absolutely bonkers. Then I say "Gentle touches," and guide his hand to do just that. So far, no success whatsoever, but I wasn't really expecting any. Sooner or later the light will dawn, I'm sure, but until then I think it's mostly a strategy about venting my irritation in a potentially constructive direction.

Anyway, I'm hoping it's a phase, like the occasional shrieking, that comes and goes rather than continuing until I've won the contest of wills, which: oy vey.


Shopkeeper said...

You are doing exactly the right thing! He is testing his perameters with greater intelligence and enthusiasm, and he needs to learn that there actually are limits. While you want him to achieve succeeding levels of independence, he must also learn acceptable behavior.

Defining his perameters demands often boring consistancy; but everyone, including the boy, the parents, his eventual teachers, and the world at large, will be happier for your effort.

You've just taken on yet another giant responsibility of parenting!

And I know that you know all this without my telling you.

Dji said...

Rexi gave clear signs she knew what "no" meant by 12 months at the latest. She advanced quickly from there to testing the "no" limits. That particular "phase" hasn't ended, nor do I expect it to ever end.

Oh, and the distraction technique has become less helpful. She can be quite single-minded when she so desires.

Melanie said...

Being a dog person, my instinct would be to say "no," put him down, and walk away (if possible) for a short time (I am guessing 30 seconds would suffice). If he were being really obnoxious, I guess I'd crate him, except for some reason that's illegal for kids... unless you call it a "playpen." Note to self...