Am I out of line?? Teaching now 11 month old "don't touch" and "don't eat" .. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Just read a thread here that made me question if I'm wrong.

I baby proofed everything and my son has full range to explore our whole house, I even let him crawl (on his own will) to the patio to play with his toys and water table (I supervise!)

But sometimes I have to say dont touch and redirect gently - like the gas line for our grill, the power cord/outlet connecting a bidet to the toilet ( long story lol) ..." Don't eat" if he has mulch in his hands, "gentle" if he gets a grip of hair -...

And I know he's understanding. But am I wrong?

He just turned 11 months old.

I use don't because I want to save no for something big - that could injure etc.
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#2 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 07:52 PM
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I'm sure you're not "wrong" but I do remember reading that it's often better to tell your child what you want them TO DO. There was a study done (I'll link it if I can find it) that found children hear the action more than the "do" or "don't". So if you say, "Don't play with the grill," you child may often hear just, "Play with the grill." In the examples above you could either say, "Be gentle with my hair" or "Don't pull my hair." Based on the philosophy I was talking about you'd use the first example. I find it works pretty well. 

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#3 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 07:56 PM
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Honey, I hit a million kinds of no well before 11 months. I really don't understand the reluctance I sometimes see on this board to use the word.

I think what you're doing sounds totally appropriate. I wouldn't worry so much.
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#4 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 08:12 PM
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A good basic article:


Still can't find the study but this article is great from what I can tell after a brief scan: "No more "No!" – keep it positive

Both parents and children get tired of hearing "no" all the time. Too many "no's" lose their meaning and don't help a child learn what will get her a "yes." It is not enough to tell a child what not to do; positive statements can also teach a better alternative. If your five-year-old is happily and busily coloring with crayon on the wall, it's more effective to give him paper and say something like, "Walls are not meant for drawing, but paper is perfect. And when you use paper you can draw as many pictures as you want, and I can save them." Parents should develop a radar system to pick up the good behavior rather than just the bad."

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#5 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 08:31 PM
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It sounds like you've created an environment where your babe can be "good" 99% of the time and be re-directed for the rest of it. You're doing great.
dogretro and SimpleLove like this.
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#6 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by leafylady View Post

It sounds like you've created an environment where your babe can be "good" 99% of the time and be re-directed for the rest of it. You're doing great.



At 11 months, he certainly can learn the meaning of  "no" and Obey it for a moment.  I don't think he can really learn to remember the "no" and stop himself the next time.  I think they just get bored with the object after a while.  Because kids this age will spend two months obsessing over the trash can, then suddenly just stop.  But, only because now they are obsessing over the toilet.


I think you are doing perfect.  The world is occasionally a "no" and there's nothing wrong with learning that early.  Especially in a dangerous situation.  They are grabbing the cord to a curling iron, and you yell "no" because you can't get there fast enough to stop him....if he knows what "no" means, and he doesn't hear it 700X a day, he is more likely to respond at least long enough for you to get there first.  

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#7 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 10:02 PM
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If its not a million times a day and you are redirecting by giving him something else fun to do, then how is that bad? I don't think its negative at all. Negative would be saying it in a mean voice and giving him nothing else to do.

Mama to DD(6) DS(4) DD(2.5)LO(due July 2012): and loving wife to my great DH
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#8 of 17 Old 07-27-2012, 10:18 PM
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Did this with both of my kiddos and they both learned not to touch things that weren't theirs, no problems. Even my oppositional one will not touch if I say, "That's Daddy's." We used personal possession a lot to define boundaries. It has helped w/ sibling relations, too. I think a lot of the "don't say no" stuff really underestimates children. I'm not going to walk around and say it all day, we set them up for success and redirect positively, but to assume that a young child does not understand no or don't touch is belittling. 


DD (4.25.08)  DD (4.23.10)  DD (10.13.12)

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#9 of 17 Old 07-28-2012, 05:44 AM
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I had all kinds of plans for not ever saying no...yeah right. For one thing, I say it instinctively. And, like a previous poster noted, I do want dd to know the meaning of the word. I try to use short, easily repeatable phrases that are positive "sit please" in the bathtub, "just for looking" when she heads for my bookshelf, "yucky" when she tries to shove my sandal in her mouth, and "gentle with momma" when she scratches. But sometimes I involuntarily yell no because it freaking hurts. I gently physically redirect her from all these situations and repeat myself a million times. I was thrilled the other day when I said "sit please" and she sat back down on her own without help. It's the little things, you know? She is 9 months old.

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#10 of 17 Old 07-29-2012, 07:55 AM
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I say "no thank you" in a neutral tone to my 16 month old and have for months. I redirect too and most times she tries to comply pretty well. I also explain, for instance "no thank you. That belong to the little boy and we can't take it without permission. Here is your toy" or "no thank you. Hitting hurts and makes mommy sad. Be gentle with mommy". Sometimes a version of this works with meltdowns too. I'd pick her up and say "i know you are angry but you can't eat the battery because it is dangerous. Mommy has to keep you safe. Here is a carrot." So I do say no a lot but not arbitrarily. She is young still but I think she can read emotions very well even if she doesn't understand the words. She responds to empathy and in a dangerous situation where I can't get to her for a couple of seconds a firm "No!" stops her in her tracks. Sometimes it also gets her upset but that's nothing a little snuggle, some kind words and a little nursing can't fix.
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#11 of 17 Old 07-30-2012, 04:01 PM
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We started doing a lot of the "positive statements" when DD was a bit older and somewhat more verbal.  We did use "no touch" prior to that.  It think that when children are less verbal, they need a consistent message that they will definitely understand.  When you use positive statements, they tend to be specific to each situation, so they're always different.

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#12 of 17 Old 07-30-2012, 05:07 PM
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Moving him away from any danger is fine. Stating clearly and simply why you are moving him is also fine.

Expecting him to remember and avoid it in the future -- wrong.

According to Penelope Leach, children below 18 months do not have sufficient brain development yet to be able to remember instructions. As she likes to say, they're too young to be naughty.
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#13 of 17 Old 07-31-2012, 08:35 PM
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Sounds like you're doing great!  I just wanted to point out, as pek64 did, that at 11 months he does *not* have impulse control.  Meaning, he may well understand what you mean, but he literally cannot keep from doing it.  You can tell him "no touch," he'll understand, then immediately try to touch again.  It's just his developmental age.  Over time he can develop some situational recall, but don't have expectations that he will remember and follow "rules" at this age.  Right now, redirection is your friend.  Still say whatever you want to - I like "off limits" for things he can't touch while shaking my head, but immediately provide something he CAN touch and maybe change locations.

Living and loving in ATX with DH (of 7 years) and DS (3.5)
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#14 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 08:41 AM
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My Little Miss loves to walk, assisted, so when she's into something she shouldn't be into (let's say the cat food, for example), I give her the moderate "No!" noise*, I tell her why (in our example:  "Yuckers!"), and then I say "Let's leave it alone!" and help her walk away.  This all came about pretty naturally, and seems to be working, and meets my criteria for establishing clear parameters for acceptable behavior while employing gentle redirection and positive reinforcement.  And she LOVES it.  She looks mad and disappointed for a second, and then realizing that, OK, she doesn't get to eat the cat food, but she does get a nice walk.  I think she considers this a fair trade.



* The moderate "No!" noise is a throaty "Ah." which we use to basically indicate "You should strongly consider stopping.", and allows us to save other "No!"s for, say, more severe circumstances. 

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#15 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 10:14 AM
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I try to word things positively whenever I can, but sometimes of course have to tell kids to stop doing something. I find "stop" is ignored less than "no."
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#16 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 11:39 AM
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I think young children (under about 3) have a hard time comprehending the word "don't", which is a lot different than "No".


My twin sons were about 2-1/2. We were visiting my parents, and the boys were "helping" my mom plant flowers in the garden. When she encountered earthworms, she gave them to the boys to play with - a new expereice for them.


First Bryan came into the kitchen, showing off his worm: "Grandpa! My got a worm!". My Dad made a big fuss: "Bryan, what a nice worm! That's really cool!", but ended with a stern look and "Don't eat the worm!" We could see Bryan's thought process on his face - a look of disgust (it had never occured to him to eat the worm), then thoughtfulness as the wheels turned in his head "... eat the worm... Grandpa said eat the worm...", and he went back outside.


Moments later we had an instant replay of the entire scene with James (gotta love twins!). He got the same look on his face, and we could see the wheels turning the same way.


A few minutes later heard my mom laughing in the garden. Both boys had dirt on their faces; she had just seen James spit the worm out of his mouth. When asked where his worm was, Bryan proudly replied "My ate it!"


I'm convinced that the word "don't" went in one ear and out the other - not because he was willfully disobedient, or even because he didn't understand what it meant, but because the words that followed had a bigger impact.


Eliminating "don't" statements takes some effort, but it really does work, especially when they are younger. Imagine if I told you "Don't think about a chimpanzee wearing a red hat, riding a tricycle". That image is going to come to your mind, and you will have to consciously think about something else to get that image out of your head. When a young child hears "Don't jump on the bed", even if they have the impulse control to stop, it can be pretty hard to think of an alternative, when the last thing you heard was "jump on the bed!"


"Just to look at" and "sit on your bottom" and "gently touch" are all "do" statements, which puts the onus on the adult, not the child, to think of an appropriate action. When the child sits, then the adult can say "Climbing on chairs is dangerous - you could fall and get hurt". It also give us the opportunity to say "Thank you for sitting on the chair!" or something to reinforce the behavior and habit you are trying to develop. With a little effort, it becomes second nature to tell them what to do, instead of what not to do.

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#17 of 17 Old 08-01-2012, 04:26 PM
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Children respond poorly to negatives. The subconscious does not understand the word "not" (that includes "don't, etc). It was a hypnotist who demonstrated it by giving pens to hypnotized individuals and telling them "don't drop the pen".
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