As my little guy’s cognitive skills mature and he is ever so vigilant, I’m finding myself in tricky situations-catch 22’s. A catch-22 is a difficult situation without an easy solution. Let me start by saying pregnancy is the ultimate catch-22. Then comes parenting, which is filled with infinite examples. Let me share some I’m currently experiencing with my one year old.
Things that make me say “Hmmm”
I thought it was a great idea to walk my son over to his diaper pail to dispose his dirty diapers after each diaper change. I’ve been doing this since day one. My thinking was that this would become routine and reinforce the concept of start to finish. I’m also thinking that once he can walk and understand throwing things away, he can follow the directions to throw his diaper and other things away. No regrets, glad I’ve done this. Here’s the problem, he’s learned to throw things away but not just diapers. He loves his diaper pail and throwing any and everything in it…..Hmmm
Happened just this past weekend, baby and daddy were digging holes in the sand. As daddy scooped the sand up, he threw it out. Our son picked up on this quickly and began throwing sand also. But latter was told not to throw sand, something so cool and fun…..Hmmm
We have always had fun throwing bouncy balls up against our glass back doors. My son gets the biggest kick out of it. Rolling over with laughter. His laugh is infectious, so mommy and daddy do it over and over and over again. Cue my son’s turn to throw balls against the door. Let’s just say the balls he chooses aren’t exactly glass friendly…..Hmmm
Dog bowls…..I was adamant that my son not get into the dog’s bowls and pour her entire dish of water all over the floor while having a little taste of dog food for himself. My husband and I worked very hard to redirect baby from the bowls and after much hard work and many repetitions, my son would go for them then take a sharp turn just before the words “no thank you” came out of my mouth. Just when we conquered that, my son became observant enough to watch and learn from me pouring half drank bottles of water, that my husband is infamously known for leaving behind, in the dog’s bowl. Now, whenever my sweet little apprentice gets his hands on a water bottle, he takes it over to the dog’s water bowl and attempts to pour it in. Makes total sense, so stinking cute but can’t happen….catch 22.
Dog bowls again…..I thought I was being so smart redirecting my baby to a kitchen cabinet when teaching him to refrain from the dog’s bowls. Unfortunately, without a lot of forethought put in, I redirected him to the cabinet with the dog’s wet food containers. It was great, entertained my little for significant amounts of time. Putting them in and taking them out, dropping and banging them. Not so great now that he is cognizant enough to know that mommy feeds them to our dog each morning and he can do the same…..Hmmm
One last dog story. This mama is guilty of throwing leftover food scraps from the high chair on the floor for the dog. You guessed it, baby has learned and does a great job with this too. Excuse me son, I can do that but not you…..Hmmm
The Power of Redirection
What’s tricky with catch-22s is how you deal with them. I don’t want to scold or dishearten my son for learning and doing. Imitation is how babies learn and imitate they will! I find myself smiling and laughing at my son and thinking, how do I deal with this?! He learned it from me. At this stage of the game, with littles that know just enough to be dangerous, redirecting their behavior to a baby friendly task is my best advice. Redirecting is shifting attention and focus from one thing to another.
Examples of redirecting:
- Just today I bought a step to open trashcan. I’m going to trial redirecting my son from his diaper pail to this can. He loves putting things in and taking them out and his actions are appropriate and harmless, therefore I don’t want to discipline him. I want to redirect him to an activity more mommy and baby friendly, so I will see if this works. As his reasoning skills sharpen, we will work on what’s appropriate to throw away. For now, he plays!
- In the throwing sand example, I gave my son a shovel and showed him digging with my shovel. We dug together for a long time using our shovels.
- When throwing balls, I say “trade ya” and hand my son an appropriate ball in exchange for his hard plastic jingle ball. Then I hide the jingle ball. He simply can’t understand why he can’t throw the jingle ball right now, so redirection is best.
- The dog bowls….challenge at it’s finest! I attempt to anticipate when it’s coming and intercept the act. If I don’t get to him, I say, “those are Bella’s, these are yours” and redirect him to a toy.
- As for giving the dog his food, I haven’t figured this one out yet. I’ve tried having him give it to me but then he gives it all to me. My wheels are turning on this one, I will keep you posted!
The take away here is that babies learn by observing. We must be careful what we do, provide good role models, be aware that they are watching and be prepared on how to best deal with the little catch-22 that we created. Babies learn quickly, but on a very immature level. As we all know, time flies and sooner rather than later, my son will be able to understand and reason with the difference between mommy and baby doing. For now, he is learning the basics and redirection is the way to go! No doubt, there are times when you just have to say, “no.” Take a look at my post on dealing with baby battles here for more tips. It’s important to know that babies remember the fun things they were doing that you redirected them away from and they will re-try them many, many times and you will have to redirect them many, many times. BUT this is much more effective than saying “no” many, many times.
Cheers to REDIRECTING!
Respect, kindness and love begin with babies…we must show them the way!