“Ow!” Exclaimed my daugher, who was playing with her 4-month old son. “He loves standing up, but he’s grabbing my glasses. Or my hair. And that hurts mummy, boo-boo.”
She’d already given up wearing earrings. But it was going to be a while before the lad could be taught “touch gently” for petting cats or family members.
“Well,” I offered, “you could always try Incompatible Behaviors.” In the world of behavior modification, this is usually used in the sense of rewarding the preferred alternative. But I was thinking in the more concrete sense, meaning, if you’re doing one thing, then you can’t do the other (undesired) thing. “If you give him something else to hold onto, then he can’t grab your hair.”
This has proven so useful, she has wisely taken the idea to other situations. At nap time, the lad is still so wound up that he gets agitated from playing with his hands. So she gives him a stuffed animal or blanket to hold onto, and the babe’s able to calm down.
Now she’s discovered the joy that is watching a child learn new skills, especially as he practices sitting up and playing with the extra plastic measuring cups stored in an old plastic ice-cream tub. “Today he learned that if he knocks the cups against the tub, they make noise!”
I chuckled, knowing what was coming up next, and we chorused in dismay, “Today he learned that if he knocks the cups against the tub, THEY MAKE NOISE!”
“And that’s why I never give anyone’s kids toys that make noises,” I nodded sagely.
“I’m going to just pass along some of those things that were handed along to us,” she confided.
As all parents know, if you give your children quiet toys, they will have to work imaginatively to figure out how to make noises with them.