Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lessons I Accidentally Taught My Child

Childhood is all about learning, and as parents, there are tons of lessons we're supposed to teach.  Every once in a while I feel so hopeless and down on myself because it seems as though I'm the wrong person to be doing this job- it feels like Aias has learned so little from me.  When I get in moods like this, I simply remind myself of all the things I've successfully taught Aias, without even trying! 

Lesson I Intended to Teach: "Share" means "Share"
Lesson I Accidentally Taught: "Share" means "Give Whatever You Have to Aias"
I like to think this is my friend's fault for having such an awesome kid.  You see, Aias spends a lot of time with his little friend Elliot who is the same age as him.  Elliot happens to be a bit of an expert at sharing, Aias on the other hand, is not.  There are quite a few toys of Aias's that go completely ignored unless Elliot is here. You see if Elliot wants to play with something, it must be great, so of course Aias has to have it.  When an argument takes place over a toy, I always ask the boys to share.  When I do this, Elliot happily gives the toy to Aias.  Over time this has taught Aias that sharing means to give whatever you have to him.

What do you mean "share?"
Lesson I Intended to Teach:  "Say please if you want something"
Lesson I Accidentally Taught: "Saying please gets you whatever you want, no matter what it is"
I was warned about this one.  The method Aias uses to ask for something is basically to hold out his arm and grunt, which is a whole other faulty lesson altogether, but I digress.  After a while of Aias making clear requests, I decided to start teaching him to say please when he makes a request.  It took a few weeks of being consistent but eventually he would say it, but he'd only say it after I told him he couldn't have something.  Then after saying please and being told no, he was more angry than ever.  I'm sorry, but no amount of "pleases" are going to result in me allowing him to play with electrical sockets.

I want THAT!
Lesson I Intended to Teach: Saying "uh-oh" if something drops on the floor
Lesson I Accidentally Taught: If you throw things on the floor your parents will say "uh-oh"
Ok this one is sort of cheating, we never really wanted to focus all that hard on saying "uh-oh."  What happened was that we had been saying it, and one day he said it too and we thought it was hilarious.  Of course, after a while he would just throw the same thing on to the floor OVER and OVER again because he thought it was fun to say uh-oh.  Even after we tried to un-teach this by just not saying uh-oh, he still thought it was pretty funny for him to be the one who says it.

Lesson I Intended to Teach: We love you and will always respond to your needs.
Lesson I Accidentally Taught:  We love you and all you need to do is cry to get some attention.
Now, I don't regret this one because I truly believe that if your child is crying you need to attend to their needs. Sometimes the need isn't something specific like food or water or a diaper change, but something as basic as being cuddled or being paid attention to.  The part of this I don't value so much is the on-cue whining Aias will demonstrate if I am not looking at him or if I'm doing something he wants to do.  Of course, I don't want to hear him cry, so I give in, and it further reinforces the lesson.  I'm working on this by not reacting to outright tantrums, but I have a feeling it will take a while to undo, if it can ever be undone at all.

Lesson I Intended to Teach: If you are doing something "wrong" we will praise you if you correct it.
Lesson I Accidentally Taught:  It's fun to do something wrong, then correct it, then get praised, then repeat it over and over and over again.
The best example of this is in the bathtub.  If Aias stands up in the bathtub we ask him to please sit on his bum.  When he does it, we clap and tell him that he did a great thing.  Of course, this only prompts him to stand up again, sit down again, and get praised again.  Over. And Over. And Over.

These are only a few unintended lessons I've taught my child.  I am obviously in the process of un-teaching them, but that's a work in progress. At least I know I'm capable of teaching him a thing or two, right?

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  1. So funny, and true! When my 1-year-old wants something he just yanks on my pants and grunts until I respond. This method has been proven effective.

    I also have a bathtub stander. I blame my husband. He bathed him one time and let him stand up. There is no going back.

  2. Oh man, these are so true! Teaching children something specific is so hard, especially when they're toddlers. Un-teaching is not always about undoing what you did before, but adapting to a new stage of development. That's ok!

  3. cute because it's true! Found you through blog hop...hope you will follow another close-by Canadian mama back (Hint: I am over the water :))

  4. I found you on the Hoppin Weekend, I am your newest GFC follower. If you could check out my blog and follow me back I would appreciate it. Thanks Amber

  5. We have 'uh oh' in our house as well :) Fortunately we haven't fell into the same sharing issue since we apparently share poorly, and the only time Jack gets praised for sharing is when he voluntarily gives up his stuff to us. The problem I have with that is that he will spend fifteen minutes trying to cram baby carrots in my mouth in order to be praised for sharing. Hmmm.

    We don't really fuss about the bath too much. Jack is a pretty careful kid and we have a non-skid mat in the bat so he can't really fall. If he stands to get a toy or to try and get out of the bath, oh well. That's why we have parental supervision :)

  6. Funny post about your son. It appears that Aias is training you well :) I learned early on that knowing I had the best intentions have to get me by most days...the other days if I think I have done something brilliant I will savor it. So Cute!
    Following you from the hop!
    jenny at dapperhouse

  7. Hi, you visited my blog last week (I think) but I am just getting around to following everyone that stopped by! I don't have any kids, but I was a teacher for over 5 years. I hate to tell you this, but kids do almost all of those things all throughout elementary school. He will grow out of it. Since you are aware of these things now, perhaps they will improve for you sooner than later. Great article/commentary. :-) Sarah


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