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My 18 mos. old is a just like her father and has a gentle sensitive heart. I don't know how to discipline her without breaking her heart.

Here's an example of what I mean:

We have a rocking chair. A real rocking chair, not a glider. She likes to rock it with her hands and we fear that she's going to rock it right into her head! So, when she's rocking it hard, I say, "Lora, don't rock the chair. It's going to rock back at you and hit you." She looks at me. Stops. Then rocks again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. So, I look at her firmly and say, "Stop rocking the chair." and will offer her a distraction instead. She won't take the bait and looks at me, then rocks the chair. So, I go to her, pick her up and sit her down anywhere away from the chair, say the couch, and she will burst into the saddest, most pathetic cry. It's not a cry that says, "I'm mad because I can't rock the chair". It's a cry that says, "You've hurt my feelings and I'm really sad." Breaks my heart.

What else can I do instead when I'm trying to tell her not to do something, she knows she's not supposed to, but does it anyway?
 

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Perhaps the two of you could rock the chair together, with your hands over hers to prevent it bonking her?

When I run into something like this, it tells me that for whatever reason, man, my kid REALLY wants to rock that chair--so I'd try to find a way to do it safely, or to find something else similar in spirit.

That said, sometimes you run out of possibilities, in which case, at that age, I'd try to hold her and comfort her while empathizing. "I know--you really wanted to do X! But X is not safe for babies." I found it helped to have a frequently-used phrase ("not safe for babies") that I pulled out, so she sort of recognized it.
 

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I would try phrasing your directives in terms of the positive and not focus on the negative. For example, in YOUR example, instead of 'don't do that' say, "Chairs are for sitting in!" and put her in the chair and help her rock it while sitting in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. These two suggestions are wonderful. I'll try them out today
 

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I think acknowledging the spirit of what she's trying to do is key.

If it's the rocking motion she's exploring, help her do it safely. If it's the rail of the chair "rolling" on the floor that's interesting, help her with that.

Approaching it with the idea that you are a team with her - your role is to fascilitate her safe exploration - will help her feel safe not only with her world, but with you. Even when she can't have her way, she will hear that you are still there rooting for her to accomplish what she set out to do.

Redirection that doesn't address what the child was actually trying to learn about never seems to fly very well. Like the classic example of splashing in the toilet... redirection to play with keys is not the same as redirection to playing in a sink. In the first, the root desire to explore water was ignored, while in the second the it was honored.

She can't know about "not supposed to". That's a myth. She only knows that either mama understand and supports, and is helping her accomplish what she wants to learn, or that she is outcast from the clan and that her innate need to explore is wrong. She can't make any finer distiction that than right now.
 

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Maybe get her something safe she can rock? I believe Little Tykes makes a little rocking chair, it wouldn't hurt her if it fell over. Or a rocking horse or something like that?
 

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maybe you can stand behind her or the chair to make sure it doesn't fall on her? Hold your hands over her head while she does it? In a little bit, she won't be so interested. If it's very dangerous, and you can't secure her safety, I'd put the chair in storage until she's a little older.
 

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My ds is really sensitive too, but in a slightly different way.
Perhaps you could just say "It's not safe to sit there and do that. The chair might come back and hit you." So leave out the "don't" and the orders. Just give information. And then decide on your comfort level. I tend to let ds make those decisions, and if he decides to keep on doing it, I'll help him make sure its safe (so for the rocker, I might put my hand between the chair and his head). Or if I can't really make it safer, I'll tell him "I'd really rather you not do that. I worry that its not safe." or something. Then find another way to use the item more approprately.
I've found that with ds, he gets really upset if someone makes him feel as if he's done something "wrong" that he should have known was wrong. So its best to tell him to stop in a way that assumes that if he had all the info, he wouldn't be doing it in the first place. kwim? Or if he's WAY into something, then someone says "no" or "don't" and kinda snatches that moment away. So its best to break it to him gently.

gotta go finish dinner
 

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It's not exactly answering your original question, but in the example given, I would probably say "If you rock the chair like that, it might hit you in the head," and then leave it at that. If it bonks her once, it's not going to kill her (or even hurt her very much). And one bonk will probably achieve your goal, which is that she will leave the chair alone. I think she's old enough to learn that on her own.

Good luck. Jessi
 
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