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Donít you talk back to me BOY!

Whatís up new dadís!  Letís get right down to itÖ.

 Not too long ago I was picking up Devin from daycare when I had a real ah-ha moment.  I have quite a few of those moments, and quite often, but this one was particularly disturbing because I should have seen it for what it was long ago.   That way I could have been consistently addressing it when necessary.   Anyway, I was helping the boy tie his sneakers, and as we were going over the many events of the day I overheard a familiar conversation that most parents have had, or will have, with their two or three year olds.  The teacher that was supervising the dismissal of the group asked this normally sweet little girl that I have known since she was six months old to sit down in her chair.  The little girlís prompt reply was ďno you sit down in the chair.Ē  What happened next floored me.  It hit me like a ton bricks actually.  The teacher said in a stern and authoritative voice ďMegan, donít talk back to me, sit down in your chair.Ē 

 Ah-ha!  All those times that Devin has said a single word after I told him to do something or not to do something as the case may be, he was not merely asserting his personality Ė the little tyrant was talking back!  It is a phrase that came rushing back to me from my childhood and I realized that I had mistaken his protests for something other than what they were.  It was outright back-talk nothing more and certainly nothing less.  Instead of identifying the act and addressing it, I would simply repeat my command, or physically make him do something.  I was allowing him to have somewhat of a say, but once you allow a child to get in a single word, it becomes an argument, and under no circumstances do you ever argue with a toddler. 

We are the parents, what we say, as long as we have the best interest of our children in mind, goes.  Case closed.  The trouble is that it is sometimes difficult to identify a behavior for what it is, especially if it is your first time as a parent.  Sometimes a kid jumping up and down on a bed having the time of her life giggling and carrying on can be the cutest thing in the world, until you realize that her motor skills are still developing and itís a very real possibility that she will lose control of her romping and go flying off of the bed onto the floor.  It is impossible to have all the bases covered and have a full grasp of every possible scenario that you may face.  But as fathers and care givers we have to cover as many bases as we can.

 Iím sure that some of you listening will think that I am nuts to not have recognized this talking back behavior earlier on, but the first step is admitting your faults and mistakes.  Ever since that day I have been consistently on Devin about it and he has been responsive.  My guess is that part of his responsiveness comes from the fact that I am now reinforcing what is being done in daycare.  Usually the struggle is vice-versa and Iím trying to get the daycare to reinforce what we are doing at home.  I guess there is a first time for everything.

 last updated May 2006  

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