Parenting and semantics

By kate on August 5th, 2008

Sometimes you can bang your head against the wall to get an idea across to your child, and in the end getting just the right turn of phrase makes all the difference. My brilliant husband has a real knack for coming up with small ideas that really get through to Ruby and make our parenting easier. Here are a few recent examples:

“Don’t freak out”  I don’t know why, but this particular phrase is very effective at taking the steam out of an overreaction. Sometimes Ruby will start to cry or shout about something, and start winding herself up. We’re able to talk her down before she gets to tantrum stage, and saying “don’t freak out” gets through to her right away.

“Woo woo”  Recently Ruby, like most two-year-old girls (and maybe boys), started shrieking when she was running around having fun. This ear-splitting din is not something I want to tolerate, so I had been telling her to stop, with meager results. Steve then had a talk with her, and told her to say “woo woo” instead of shrieking when she felt like making noise. Amazingly, it worked! She then ran around saying “woo woo woo” at a pitch a few octaves lower than the shrieking. Aaaah. And it seems to be sticking. If she forgets (and shrieks), I just have to remind her and she goes back to “woo.”

“Back in ten minutes”   A couple weeks ago, Ruby began getting very upset when the person putting her to bed got up to leave. She would cry and say “I need you!” and insist on more cuddling. It was nice to a point, but eventually enough is enough. Just to disentangle himself one night, Steve told Ruby he’d come back upstairs to her room in ten minutes. She accepted this and he left without a scene. When he returned ten minutes later, she was calm and tired, and let him leave after a quick cuddle. Bingo! Now, every night, she asks us to come back in ten minutes as we leave. Many times, she’s asleep before we return. Even if she’s awake ten minutes later, there are no more tears or pleading.

“Papa bite”   Occasionally, we want to encourage Ruby to take another bite of something she’s eating. As you can imagine, she’d often take a minuscule nibble. Last week, Steve told Ruby that if she took a “Papa bite” of her spinach nugget, she could have a spoonful of his yogurt. Lo and behold, it worked. She took a big ol’ bite. We’ll be hanging onto this phrase.

Filed under: family, parenting
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