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Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Tube Teaches New Vocabulary...NO!

When #1 was tiny, we tried everything we could not to use the word "no." Not that we always said "yes." Oh no! That was definitely not the case, but we tried to find alternatives so that "no" wouldn't be her first nor her most used word as a toddler.

There was "uh uh" and "I don't think so" and words and phrases such as those, and sure enough, "no" just wasn't one of her words. I was so glad to know that it was avoidable.

There's one thing I've learned since, though, that I think is an even better way to go. I learned this quite by accident (which is the case with many things I learn as a mother).....

When you have a large family, younger kids learn some pretty mature things from older siblings. Sometimes it's pretty darned shocking. 

image credit: youtube.com
One day, the older kids were watching a video on You Tube. They were laughing and having a good time. Little brother just couldn't stay away. They were all enjoying themselves greatly. It was fun to watch.

The next morning, though, I paid the price. After everyone had gone to school, #6 was sitting at the kitchen table. He let out with  a word that I hadn't even heard my 16-year-old say. #6 was three. I'm sure my chin fell to the floor, and my eyes were as big as saucers. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out where this word had been learned. Later, when I watched the same video the kids had watched the night before, I knew....Thanks, You Tube.

Well, the word flew, and "We don't say that," automatically left my mouth. It was purely knee-jerk.

Again, he let the word fly. Really?! Was this a challenge he was putting forth? Oh, little man, you really don't want to go there.

Here I was. How was I going to control this one? You know, I've shared before that there are things children do that you just have no power over. I mean, what was I going to do? What's the saying?...
Ah yes, I suppose this was an option, but he didn't know what he was saying. I mean, he knew what he was saying, but he didn't know what it meant. All he knew was that it had power--it was getting a rise out of me. Just the perfect thing for him to take with him to church on Sunday or to preschool when the time came. The more I begged, pleaded and implored him not to, the more he said it. He tried various expressions and volumes each time I responded. I was getting nowhere but he was walking into zones he'd ever knew existed.

Suddenly it occurred to me....what if I offered him a replacement word?

image credit: stitchintheditch.blogspot.com
That day, he learned the word "darn." Once he learned it, the other word melted away, and the look on his face was classic! Something clicked. I've not heard that You Tube word since, and he's now 5.

Sometimes I wonder if I couldn't have avoided a lot of situations similar to this one if I'd just been a little better problem solver and offered a new word or a new coping strategy. I mean, if a child was hitting, instead of saying "no," couldn't I have taken the child by the hand and taught him/her to use it in a gentler way? Maybe what the child was doing was only because he/she knew no other way. Just saying "no" is ineffective.

When we took our dog to puppy training years ago, one of the things we were taught was to only use the word "come" in emergency situations--if the dog was in the street and a car was coming, for example. Okay, so I hate to hear a two-year-old spouting off with "No....No!....NOOOO!!!" but maybe my two-year-old is just as tired of hearing me say it. Maybe I should only use "no" when my child is in the street and a car is coming.

So, at some point in #1's development, "no" crept back in. Maybe it was after toddlerhood when we thought it was safe--when we knew she had enough other words that that one word wouldn't overtake all others. In hindsight, I now see that there really was no need for it to return. Sometimes maybe instead of turning to that annoying word, all we need is a little bit of creative action.

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