Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things I Am Glad I Taught My Son

I will be the first to say that my oldest son is a special kid completely, 100% on his own. He has the most sensitive heart for people that I have ever seen. He is intelligent beyond what I can comprehend. He is overall just amazing.

But I also see that I got a couple things right. And I think that it is important to share things that made a difference for us so it might can make a difference for someone else.

1. We only said "NO" by accident. It wasn't a word that my son really knew until we started Baby Signing Time. What we did say helps us almost every single day. When Austin would start exploring things that we didn't want him to be touching, we would say "Not for Austin." As a younger baby, if he was putting something in his mouth that didn't belong, we would say "Not for your mouth." You might think that this is much like saying "no," but I do not agree. I think what we said was more specific and more easily understood. After we had our second son, we had occassion to say that things were not for Landon, and Austin easily understood that he didn't need to give whatever it was to his brother. "Not for {insert your child's name here}" can be your go to phrase in all types of environments with consistent use and follow through.

2. We taught him what "dirty" meant in the context of touching things. There are some times when the items that Austin wants really are made for him (ex...toys in the sick room of a doctor's office). I try my hardest to eliminate future confusion by avoiding double standards. The toy in the sick room that is also available to Austin in HIS room are different. One is for Austin and one is not, but kids don't always understand the difference. So in the one time we did have to take him to the "sick side" I told him that he had to sit in Daddy's lap because the things in that room were "dirty." This probably wouldn't work so much if he liked getting dirty, but he isn't much for dirt. He always repeats that they are dirty, signing away, and then doesn't even try to get them. If your kid likes dirt, you might want to find another way to express it, but recognize where confusion might lie.

3. Way before we knew about signing, we taught tiny Austin how to point to what he wanted. He tried, just like every other kid I have ever seen, to yell to get what he wanted. We like going out in public, and this behavior just wasn't going to work for us, so we would whisper to him, "if you want something you have to lower your voice and point." It didn't take long to get him to go about things the way we wanted. Getting louder and louder didn't get him what he wanted, but he wasn't ignored either. There is middle ground that I rarely see in public, but we found it. I always enjoy seeing a furrowed brow because an elderly couple is seated beside "the baby/toddler" only to have them stop by on their way out to say how wonderful Austin is. This may be the one thing that I know for certain was mine and my husband's doing, but it is a biggie. That doesn't mean that he never "forgets." We just have to remind him that we (and our expectations) haven't changed.

I am not an expert on parenting...far from it. All I know for certain is that I have wonderful kids that are well behaved (most of the time). I think a lot of it comes from their security from my nursing, and a lot of it comes from consistent training. I can remember a couple weeks there where I was sure that what I was doing was not working, but it turned out that I just had a stubborn kid on my hands (I wonder where he got that from). Eventually it clicked, and life got easier. I put the hard work in at home so it looks peachy in public. And it does get easier at home too, thank God.

No matter if you feel your kid would or wouldn't be helped by this post, remember the best parenting advice that you could ever be given is as follows:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~James 1:5

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