Friday, September 17

Toddler won't stay out of entertainment center! Help!!

Hey guys!  So I just burned the shinola out of my thumb taking brownies out of the oven.  I’ve got a humongous ice bandage on my left hand and look like a freaking monkey, finger-typing with my right – so this will be brief.  Plus, my family is having a “Star Wars: Clone Wars” season-premiere-party in the other room, eating all my brownies!!  Dang-IT.
This question is from a mom with a toddler who won’t stay out of the entertainment center – nothing any of us could relate to or anything…
Q:  My daughter is almost 11 months. She is walking and exploring everything. She likes to go to the entertainment center and touches all the equipment and opens the drawers and pulls out wires and discs. Right now I physically move her and tell her, "No" but she goes right back to it. What can I do to have her learn not to touch the entertainment center?
A:  Good question, and good news...totally normal behavior!  My own daughter did the same thing.  Geez, I got so tired of saying, "We don't dump Mommy's CD's on the floor..."  The only bad news (I say, "only"...yikes!) is that you have to repeat yourself and repeat yourself until you're blue in the face.  You are doing the right thing - physically remove her and keep your comment very short (ie, "no touching") or even some sound associated with "no" - like "ah" or "mm mm" (as in 'no no').  Whatever you do, don't freak out, yell, or otherwise start making her think it's cool to get your attention by heading toward the entertainment center.  You can even physically block her.  Don't talk; just stand in her way and as she tries to move forward, and keep moving your legs to block her as she tries to go around.  She might get ticked, but let her fuss - just her way of saying, "what gives?!"  If she starts to tantrum, move her to a time out (how-to's are in my book...and it's only to diffuse the crying and let a child know that they don't get their way when they tantrum...otherwise they learn quickly that tantrums work!)

She's at an age where she's so curious and 'wow, I can move!!' - so she needs to be able to get into some stuff.  Maybe have one cabinet in the kitchen - or even the entertainment center - that is 'hers' - with cool "mommy" stuff in it: old remote controls or phones, real keys on a chain, Tupperware with fun stuff in it, or even some of those markers that only draw on certain paper (although at 11 months...serious supervision is needed - she's liable to start munching on them).  When she heads for the wires, you can either do the "block-her dance", or redirect to what IS hers.  I find that toddlers do much better when they're given a "yes" or choice in what they CAN do instead of being told 'no' all the time with no redirection.  So something like, "No ma'am.  You may play in your drawer instead."  Or (if you are freaking tired of repeating yourself) just that "ah" ("no") noise with a physical cue (pick her up or point) to go to 'her drawer' would be fine. 

Stay consistent.  She needs that desperately right now.  You are defining a world of comfort and security for her and you must stick with it.  Repeat, redo, repeat, redo.  It's enough to make your head spin, but keep at it!  That is the only way she learns that you are trustworthy with what you say and do.  She may get irked (or even furious sometimes), but in the end, it will give her an awesome sense of control, boundaries, and security, which keeps her from going into overload.

Good luck!

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