Thursday, September 14, 2006

Raising the Bar on Nigel

Nigel is developing into a chatty little dude. He has a fair number of words, which are, typical for his age, coming out in one- and two-word declaratives. "Telegraphing", it's called, because minimum words are used to convey maximum information. "Kitty! Ball!" "Yes, the kitty is playing with the ball, isn't he?" Nigel has all kinds of words, and we hear them a lot. All except 'please' and 'thank you'. Hmm. Now, I usually have more success with 'please', so I'll often start with it. (Why is please easier? It's all in the motivation. "Want this cookie? Say 'please'!" You can see how it's easier to get out a 'please' than a 'thank you' - he's got that cookie stuffed into his mouth to the tonsils: why is further communication necessary?) The boy has a good vocabulary, and is all about chatter these days. It's time for some pleases around here. Nigel is in his high chair. "Up! Up! Up!" "Would you like to get down, Nigel?" (Yes, I say 'down', he says 'up', but we know what we mean.) "Yeh! Up! Up! Up!" "Okay. I'll lift you. Say, 'Up, please'." "Up! Up! Up!" "Please..." He gives me a long, level stare. "Say 'please', and you can get down and go play." "Wass dass?" Smart kid. It's the old "Look behind you!" trick. "That's a cup. Now, do you want down?" "Up! Up! Up!" "Up, Please." Silence. "Okay then. When you're ready to say 'please', I'll let you down." I move into the kitchen. I can hear him through the open doorway. I listen as I do a sink of dishes. "Out! Out! Out!" Guess he figures it might work better with a different word. Maybe he won't have to comply with the 'please' stuff, if he uses a dif-- "Out, please." Nuts. That didn't work. He opts to just struggle against the seat belt. I can hear him grunting, and then... "Tuck! Oh, Mah-wee! Leg tuck!" I pop my head around the kitchen door. In his efforts to free himself without resorting to the dreaded 'please', he's wedged his foot in the chair and is indeed, 'tuck'. I free the leg. "Ready to get down?" "Down!" "Say 'please'." "Wass dass?" "Never mind 'what's that'." Let's try a little motivation. "Do you want to ride the horsie?" The hobby horses are his favourite toys these days. "Yeh! Hoh-sie!" "Say 'please'." "Hoh-sie!" "Please." "Hoh-sie!" "Please." Silence. I remove myself. Put Timmy down for his morning nap. Read George a story, while Nigel stares reprovingly. "Done! Down! Up! Down! Out!" "Please." "Where cat?" "Please." "Where Ah-ma?" "Please." "Wass dass?" "Please." Twenty-three minutes...

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P


Blogger LoryKC said...

He's a strong-willed child!
(Though I'm guessing he's starting to learn whose will is stronger!) ;)

9/14/2006 10:42:00 a.m.  
Blogger Ms. Huis Herself said...

Now that's sticking to your guns! 23 minutes! That gives me encouragement for the next time Pumpkin and I are playing the "who's more stubborn" game.

9/14/2006 11:12:00 a.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

I did "what's the magic word" until the girls outgrew it.

9/14/2006 11:21:00 a.m.  
Blogger Z said...

I love the strong-willed ones - though you have to be sure to keep the upper hand. My 18-month-old granddaughter is still at the wanting to please stage "say please" - "pweeeze", with a smile and eyelash flutter. And if she burps or yawns "what do you say?" "So sowwy".

Your post from Monday encouraged me to make her settle herself for her nap yesterday - often, I take her for a ride in the pushchair to get her off. It worked. Thanks!

9/14/2006 12:04:00 p.m.  
Blogger Angela said...

That's the one sign that K still uses fairly often. If she forgets and I have to ask her "what do you say" she says please AND signs at the same time. I think that thank you is hard in general - like you said, why should I be polite after I have what I wanted!

9/14/2006 12:21:00 p.m.  
Anonymous abogada said...

I'm surprised you didn't see a roaring temper tantrum at some point. We are still working on "please" and have the same problem with "thank you," but I know that if we left our daughter in her high chair until she said please, it would be messy. So, we choose our battles on other battlegrounds.

9/14/2006 01:02:00 p.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Wow, that's determination!
For some reason, thank yous come easy to Pumpkinpie, but pleases require a prompting. "You're asking me for something..." brings a rephrase pretty fast these days, as she's figured out that she needs to ask properly to get it. Doesn't mean it happens the first time, though! (just extra words between her and her goal, I guess.)

9/14/2006 01:33:00 p.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

I think girls learn please quicker because they are more manipulative & soon work out "please" while looking up shyly from under long lashes will get them anything they want. Boys are a bit more obtuse, but thy get it in the end if it's the ONLy way to get what they want.

"tuck" was one of LMD's first words too. Neither of the others needed to use it much. I wonder what that says about my parenting~?

9/14/2006 01:47:00 p.m.  
Blogger lara said...

apparently when i was a toddler, my grandfather did the "what's the magic word?" with me once. i replied, "i don't know - what's the magic word?" he decided i was "getting smart" with him and sent me to my room until i was "ready to say the magic word." apparently after about a half-hour it occurred to him that i was only two and probably really had no idea what the "magic word" was. he says he felt guilty for days. :-P

good for you for sticking to your guns, though - how else will he learn? :)

9/14/2006 01:48:00 p.m.  
Blogger Kristen said...

LOL. You are one tough cookie. I can't wait to hear that he's caved! :-)

9/14/2006 02:07:00 p.m.  
Anonymous BeckaJo said...

"Please" is one of the only words that my autistic nephew knows how to use properly. Er - maybe that should be 'in context', as he utters it in a sort of scream whenever he's denied something. It's a process.

9/14/2006 02:10:00 p.m.  
Blogger kimmyk said...

did he finally say please?

good lord i would have given up. you're stronger than me...his momma will appreciate that. although, it should be her doing all that and not you, but whatcha gonna do?

9/14/2006 09:36:00 p.m.  
Blogger Lady M said...

So did he say "please" after 23 minutes or did he fall asleep in his chair? :)

9/15/2006 12:13:00 a.m.  
Blogger Kat O+ said...

My hubby really should read your blog. He thinks I was cruel for letting the baby cry for two minutes - two minutes! - to get him to say "Ta". But I prevailed and was victorious. Of course, I waited until he was starving and put the food tantalisingly just out of reach.

As for me, I started with "Ta", which we taught him to say before getting something. Then we slowly got him used to saying it AFTER he got something. Then we had another half an hour of wailing and gnashing of teeth to teach him to say "Please" before he got something.

Now if only I can teach my hubby to put his plates in the sink when he's done eating... :)

9/15/2006 12:59:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Lory: He's a VERY strong-willed child. Which is why it's critical that I prove myself the stronger!

Ms Huis: That's exactly how I see it: a game. A game which it's in everyone's best interests that I win. Not so that I can feel superior to their inferiority, but so that I have the authority that assures a calm and happy environment.

Granny: At this point, he doesn't know what the magic word is! (And damned if he's going to say it...)

Z: I love the feisty ones! They give the job the challenge that keeps me on my toes, and, once you've established who's really in charge, they're just a lot of fun. I've learned how to manage (and love) the clingy, nervous ones, but my heart lifts to the feisty ones, monkeys that they are.

(Oh, and glad to hear about the nap success!)

Angela: People routinely compliment me on how polite the children in my care are. I accept the compliments, because goodness knows they're earned! As you've discovered with K, once the habits are learned, they cease to be a flashpoint for a power struggle.

Abogada: I'm surprised there was no tantrum, either, frankly. Even had there been, I would have stood my ground. I don't shy away from messy if I think it's necessary. However, given how many battles a two-year-old is capable of generating in a day, it's only sensible strategy to choose one's battles carefully.

Kittenpie: Nigel has been prompted to say "ta-ta" before, of course, but this was the first time I decided to take it to the wall. I'm looking forward to the day when he requires only gentle reminders.

Juggling Mother: It may not say anything about your parenting, if LMD is anything like Nigel. That boy gets "tuck" in his high chair ten times a meal - he will NOT keep his legs out front where they belong! (And a little exploration is good for kids, right?)

Kari: Your poor grampa! That's a good story.

How else will he learn? Good question. I was watching him throughout this and thinking, "Wouldn't it just be so much simpler to choke out a 'peas'?" The drive to assert themselves is SO strong (and sometimes self-defeating) at this age!

Kristen: I am. Part of me is laughing in astonishment at how stubborn they can be when it would just be so much easer - on them - to just SAY IT. It's quite something.

Beckajo: Well, it's a step. As you say - process. Slow and gradual, I'm sure.

Kimmyk: I'm sure momma is doing it at home - though I doubt she's the type to take it to the wall like this. Her older son is quite mannerly, generally, and he didn't learn them all from me, I'm sure! But the younger brother - HE'S the stubborn one. Holy moley.

LadyM: I'll be posting on that today. :-)

Kat: I have used "ta-ta" as the all-purpose polite word when working with children a little younger than Nigel. It works for 'please' and 'thank you'. Nigels'speech is good enough to manage a 'peas'.

Your poor hubby - he's going to be run ragged by his son, I can see it now. :-)

9/15/2006 07:33:00 a.m.  
Anonymous EmilyS said...

I think its great your persistence - He probably would've been screaming after a few minutes if it were Mommy - but maybe with you he enjoyed the mind game?
Ahh..I don't know - I'm just impressed - what would you have done if he started crying screaming gasping for air? Let him out? or tried to still teach him to say Please? Hmmm....

9/15/2006 01:55:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

Wow, that IS a stubborn little boy! My son (21 months) isn't so good with unprompted "pleases," but we've been working with him.

He routinely will give me "up mummy" and so I've been having him add in "please." Sometimes he says it, sometimes he signs it, often he does both. Any of the above is acceptable. It's working well.

Your persistence with these children is an inspiration to us!

9/15/2006 02:57:00 p.m.  

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