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Thursday, January 16, 2014

When to Stop Modeling and Start Coercing

Loved this blog post--

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2014/01/theyll-grow-into-it-trusting-children-to-develop-manners-toilet-skills-emotional-regulation-and-more/

The "But what about the roads?!" question I get is, "But what if your child runs into the street?!!!" The short answer is: my son never tried to run into the street.

The longer answer is that it was really really hard for me to trust Anders around cars. But when he was about one and showed me that he was ready, that he understood cars, I decided to take a deep breath and see just how much I could trust him.

It started with him climbing from the edge of the sidewalk down to the street. We talked a lot about that transition from the curb where I felt like he was kind-of-safe to the gutter where I felt afraid about cars coming and not seeing him. My son showed me, over and over again, that when a car was coming he was just as scared as I was and wanted to be far from the curb on the sidewalk or in my arms. Anders showed me over and over that no matter how enthralled he was with leaves in the gutter, when he heard a car he would rush up to the sidewalk.

By trusting and waiting and watching, I learned that when there were no cars moving anywhere within hearing distance, Anders felt comfortable crossing the street without holding my hand. He would walk next to me, sometimes a few feet in front. Because I allowed him to do this I was able to learn that the minute Anders could hear a car, however far away, he would ask to be held. In parking lots he always asks to be held.

I learned that if we were at the park and Anders suddenly ran for the street, it was because he wanted a better view of something, like a train going by. I learned that even if it looked like was going to dash into the street, he wouldn't. He would stop at the curb. (Anders only ever did this twice though, once for a train and once for a dog.)

For the record I did remove him from the street coercively a few times but it was never about him and my trust in his judgement, it was always about where we were and crowds of people nearby watching and freaking out about the baby near the road.

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