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My Best Lesson

Louise Ahlstrom

Let your toddler take control to learn self-control

BY LOUISE AHLSTROM, MOM OF 8

I felt that saying “no” too many times to a child would lower their self-esteem because when they are one and a half or two you have to say “no” so many times. One day when my kids were very young we went over to grandma’s house and in the middle of the floor she has this little ceramic puppy. I had David with me who was at that age. She said “David, tell the puppy to stay there.” He pointed his finger at it and said, “Stay there.”

I thought it was a great idea to put him in control so he doesn’t feel like I am saying no all of the time, just say “That’s a stay there.” When David would go to their home, he would say, “Is this a stay there? Is that a stay there?” He wanted to know what his boundaries were and wanted to be in control – he liked that very much. I would say, “This is a stay there” or whatever I needed to say and that was it. I never had to worry about him touching things that he shouldn’t.

The other day I was with my grandson who was not even one yet and I was ironing. He pulled one of the hangers off the ironing board of something I had just ironed. I said, “Byron, tell that shirt to stay there.” He pointed to it and said, “Stay there.” He was hardly even talking yet and the first time I taught him he got it. He caught on quickly and now he’s more in control. Today when I was folding laundry he would hand me the clothes and I would fold them. He would go to touch the ones I had already folded and I would say, “Byron, tell those to stay there.” They sat there all day long and he didn’t pull them off.

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