Most people call it discipline (honestly, so do I most of the time) but it would be more apt to call it teaching. Because 95% of the time, that’s what it is. Or at least, that’s what it should be. Discipline should be 95% instructional, and only about 5% reactionary. So I like ‘teaching’ better. And it’s time for us to start.
Why now? There are four main reasons for me.
Language. There’s no point saying ‘no’ to someone who doesn’t have the cognitive ability to understand it. But in the last few weeks Little Man has demonstrated he’s got the skills. He can give kisses when asked – although usually he turns his head away cackling, the little imp! And a few weeks ago we were looking after my in-laws’ cat. If you asked him where the kitty cat was, he’d turn to look down the stairs to the basement, which is where the cat stayed while she was here. So he’s clearly understanding simple questions and commands.
Memory. He’s also started demonstrating in the last little while that he can retain information and patterns. This also stemmed from cats, oddly. I bought him a copy of Hairy McLary from Donaldson’s Dairy, a book I loved to read to my charges when I was a nanny. One of the characters is Scarface Claw, the big mean cat. The picture made him shriek with terror. But, mean mom that I am, we tried the book a few more times. He’d be fine up until a couple of pages before. Then he’d obviously remember what was coming and start to get antsy. It was pretty cool actually. (For the record, he’s not afraid of it any more.) So this tells me that if we start introducing some patterns for him to learn, he’ll be able to anticipate the later steps of the pattern and react accordingly.
Praise. He has really started to ‘get’ the concept of praise. Every time he stands himself up without holding on we cheer for him and he loves it. So now he throws his hands up in the air to cheer for himself when pulls something off. He’s even started clapping for himself. It’s a lot easier to get a kid to do as he’s asked if there’s something in it for them.
Necessity. Let’s face it, there’s not much to do when your kid sits in one place all day. But now he’s on the move. And it’s beginning to be outside weather. That means there’s a whole world of mischief that’s available to him now. Today he decided that the novelty of the driveway has worn off and the road is clearly where it’s at. Yikes.
Where to start? Well, obviously the road is top of the list. But here are the other lessons on our roster so far:
Food doesn’t go on the floor. I love BLW, but the floor food is really getting on my nerves!
Only grown-ups reach into the dishwasher. Kind of like the driveway/road, he’s actually decided that grabbing stuff out of the dishwasher (ie pokey knives) isn’t cool enough, so he’s escalated to trying to climb right in. Nightmare.
Tidy up! Pretty self-explanatory.
What about you? What told you your little ones were ready for bigger lessons, and what were your first lessons?