Learning to Say No

So I returned home last night to find the Monster screaming his head off from his bedroom as if he’d fallen and had really hurt himself.

By the time I made it upstairs to find out what was going on, I found my wife barricading the door to keep him in his room for time-out.  (We made the dreadful mistake of not putting a baby-gate on the door to his new bedroom, which I rectified within 45 seconds of arriving.)  The next thirty minutes were a mess of trying to calm him down and find out what had precipitated a meltdown of epic proportions.

Basically, my wife made the mistake of saying no to him.  Now, I know – a lot of you are going, “Yeah, kids are prone to do that, even NTs.”

As I’ve expressed in many posts, one of our biggest problems is that he doesn’t use his expressive language.  He’ll either give us a nebulous request (“Can I have more, please?”), say it so quietly that we can’t hear him, or give us a response with fill-ins.  (“Can I have hmmm-hmmm-hmmm-hmmm, please?”).  We’ve been working hard on trying to get him to understand that the way to get what he wants is to give us a well-phrased, legitimate request.

Apparently, he’d done just that.  In specific, it was “Can I have big bubbles, please?”

Problem is, the “big bubbles” are for outside only (ie, not in the living room)… and it was dark and in the low 40’s outside.  So, logically, the wife said no.  Under any other circumstance, she would have said yes – even if it had been 40’s and sunny outside, once I’d gotten home so someone could stay inside with the baby – but the combination of the two was a recipe for disaster.  And, understandably to me, he got very upset that he’d asked a proper question in exactly the format we wanted and that he’d gotten a negative response.  Nothing shy of what he wanted would really suffice – not the iPad, not Sesame Street, not playing on Abba’s computer.

After a while, he did compromise with us after a fashion, and settled for “small bubbles” in the living room.  But we really do need to figure out – and fast – how to be able to accomodate well-phrased requests when they’re not something we can readily say yes to.

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