My sweet precious darling Little has been playing a new fun game this week. We call it testing her boundaries. She has been having an oh so easy and lovely time learning the true meaning of the word NO. It’s been so fun.
My mantra to myself: Hold your ground, Mama.
When she screams over the silliest thing, don’t give in. When she cries and just looks so sad, don’t give in. If I reinforce the screaming and crying by giving in to them- these unwanted behaviors will only increase in the future. I do not want that!
No means no. This is a great rule for parenting, dating, dieting, you name it. No means NO. If I tell my girl no, I’d better be ready to back that up. No means NO, Mama.
Here’s a super fun example from this week:
We went to the splash park one morning to meet my Little’s #1 gal pal and her mom (who happens to be one of my favoritest gal pals). There was nobody at the splash park because all the big kids are back in school. I was so excited for our play date because the sun was shining and our girls had an entire spray ground to themselves. That never happens!
Well, my Little in her still newfound freedom of mobility wanted to not play in all the fountains, but to run across the cement. Well my precious girl is not exactly graceful in this stage of life and running across the cement around the spray ground would have resulted in skinned knees, a scraped up face, and blood everywhere. At the least.
She did not like my “Stay on the blue. Let’s play in the water.” I blocked her escape to the cement and tried to redirect her to go play about a gazillion times. I held her hands and we ran together through the fountains. (Why didn’t I wear a swimsuit this one time?) I got out toys to play in the water. Her sweet gal pal brought toys to her. NONE of it worked!
I ended up holding a crying girl and just talking over her noise with my friend while her sweet Little had a ball in the fountains. Eventually, my girl sat on the very edge of the spray ground and played toys and we ended our play date really nicely.
I stood my ground. It sucked. But it was worth it.
My Little has to learn, even if it is the hard way, that no means no. I will not reinforce the undesired behaviors by giving her whatever she’s crying about.
I said no this time to keep her physically safe. Sometimes I’ll say no for another reason. But when I say no- I have to mean it. I have to be ready to stand my ground
No means no, sweet girl. No means no, Mama.
Need more ideas for using behavior analysis in your mommy role? Check out my book- Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom's Sanity.
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA