A friend and I recently had a heated discussion about the word NO and our (younger then one year old) children. I use the word NO a lot. I think it’s important for a child, no matter how young, to have clear boundaries and a sense of what is ok and what is not ok. On any given day in my house you will hear:
-No, don’t touch that TV
-No, mommy’s hair is not for your pulling enjoyment.
-No, don’t hit the Squeek (our cat).
-No, don’t sit on Squeek. He’s not a chair.
-No, don’t eat that week old Cheerio that mommy missed when she swept yesterday.
-No, don’t turn up the volume then cry because it’s too loud.
The word NO comes up a lot. The Boy is 9 months and has been on the move for the past three months. I don’t have up a lot of gates because I want him to be free to explore, touch, taste, feel and learn. But with that desire has come the need to correct him and tell him NO.
My friend was appalled at the amount of times I had to stop him using the word NO. She felt that it was inappropriate to “discipline” a child of The Boy’s age. In her mind, he needed to discover for himself the consequences of certain actions and behaviours. In my mind, he was discovering consequences when I removed him or stopped him and used the word NO to remind him this behaviour was not OK.
The use of the word in question began, in our house, when The Boy began to scratch and smack faces. He would do it hard. It made a cool sound, got a good reaction, why wouldn’t he continue? In the beginning, I would just remove his hand or re-direct. However, The Boy is strong willed and he kept coming back for more. Finally, I had to hold his arm and look him straight in the eye and say NO. He stopped the hitting/scratching for the most part.
To me, the word NO, when used with a child under the age of two, is a way to correct, teach and hopefully encourage learning. When used in conjunction with redirection and a kiss, I don’t think of it as discipline at all…but I’m discovering many people do.
So I’m left to ponder my use of the word and its ramifications on my son. Will his first real word be NO? Will he equate his mother with the word?? Will he resent the boundaries that I’ve set up for him or be respectful and thankful that his mom wanted them there?