Why is “No” one of a baby’s first words? Probably because parents say it a lot to a baby. Because children need to know what we want them to do, we need more explaining words and fewer “Nos”: “Eat your food, don’t throw it on the floor.” “Crawl down the stairs backwards, you could get hurt if you fall.” “Be kind; kiss him, don’t hit. Our family loves each other.” They need us to say it, so they can do it.
Children who are tired or hungry, are also almost always cranky, stubborn, and won’t do what a mama asks. During a cranky morning getting ready to go swimming, our grandchildren fought putting on their bathing suits, refused to put on sunscreen, and were otherwise ornery. Finally, we walked to the back of the house. Sat down on the steps. Ate our picnic lunches and went upstairs to take a nap in our bathing suits. Swimming was not going to be any fun. We told them, “Lunchti
Our grandson, age 1 ½ years, was marching around the table with a toy stroller. I said, “Where is baby doll?” He walked off into his sisters’ bedroom. I ran in there, when I heard his bloodcurdling scream. He was pointing to the top shelf where somebody had put the baby doll. I gave it to him. He put it in the stroller. End of conversation. Everyone was happy.
Why is it important to listen to a child even before he learns to talk? First, so that you can give him the words for what he is doing. Second, a mama who listens is modeling the act of listening. If we want our children to listen to us, we must listen to them. Real listening requires thinking with the person we are listening to. It is actually really hard to do.