The last week has seen Reindeer begin to push his boundaries in new, interesting and frustrating ways. My husband and I were reviewing some of his new behaviours and came to the conclusion that he’s experimenting with his environment rather than being ‘naughty’.
Some examples include
- Turning his toys upside down and playing with them the wrong way up – not a problem with little toy cars, more difficult with a large garage, activity table and walker/ride on
- Turning his free-flow cup upside down and exploring the effect of water on various surfaces including the floor, table and Mama
- Dropping toys to see what happens. This can be out of his cot or into the bath; not a problem when the bath is empty but last night, when I turned away to put his vest in the laundry basket, he added his clean jumper to the filled bath. When I took it out he grabbed the towels to try adding them too
It’s difficult to know the correct approach to these incidents as you can see him thinking his behaviour through carefully. With the toys I’m generally just watching/asking what he wants to do and joining his play if he wants me to. I’ve decided this behaviour isn’t causing problems and will likely go away again without fuss. With dropping items and spilling water we say ‘no’ – gently at first – and correct the cup or grab the item before it hits the ground a second time. We rarely have to become firm with ‘no’ at the moment. Usually this is only needed if he looks us in the eye as he repeats a behaviour to see how we will respond. Consistency is key in these situations. Consistency and a ready diversion!
I’ve also noticed that he’s much more likely to get upset if thwarted, e.g., being given a limited number of something like a snack or asked to stop at activity before he is ready as we need to go out/come home.
Although this can all be frustrating at times – I literally cannot turn my back on him – he’s also much more interactive and responsive in other ways. He’ll still grab my spectacles sometimes, but will now return them (with a smile!) on first request. He still loves reading and will pick up a book, bring it over and then run into me with a huge smile and laugh before settling on my lap to read. He’s gradually getting used to the idea of holding hands although we have a long way to go until he’s really safe with this when walking near the road.
It’s so hard to tell whether our approaches are the best ones as everyone seems to have buckets of free advice on how to parent. We’ve decided to take a stance which gives Reindeer the maximum flexibility to explore the world around him whilst curtailing habits which aren’t acceptable in shared environments.