As a still fairly new parent, I’m gradually finding more comfort in the fact that most of my boy’s new little quirks have already been documented, explained, and dealt with by generation after generation of parents before me. (Others will possibly be labeled with 3-letter acronyms an deferred to prescription medications, but that’s a social criticism I’ll undertake if and when the time comes).

Photo by Deanna Lynne

(not my actual son) Photo by Deanna Lynne

Example of one of those normal quirks: “Toddler Refusal

My boy’s thing for the last few weeks has been to test the limits of his free will by answering “no” (and in a pretty mean tone, too!) to every question or request, even if it’s something he actually would want to do, such as:

Parent: “Hey, kiddo, do you want to gorge on this 20 lb pile of sugar and marshmallows?”

Kid: “NO!!” (as he slowly makes his way towards said pile)

Naturally, we’re not exactly thrilled with our sweet boy’s subversive attitude and while we understand this is a completely natural and likely brief developmental phase, we’ve tried to channel it into a more positive expression of free will. My wife started by teaching him to say “no, thank you” instead of “NO!”.

[the frequent reader may find a pattern here — my wife does all the hard work and I come home after work to reap the benefits…but that’s outside of the scope of this blog].

The “no, thank you” technique has proven quite effective. The boy will still say “NO!” somewhat frequently, but when asked what he should say instead, he’ll quickly correct himself and there have been a couple of times when his first response has been a very polite “no, thank you”. The glory! But you know what’s REALLY cool? After my wife accomplished the feat of turning this testy attitude into proper communication (in English), the first time he said “NO!” to me directly, I asked him “cómo se dice?” (“what do we say?”) and he responded “no, gracias, papá” (“no, thank you, papá”), without requiring prior training from me.

Besides it being really cool, this seems like an indication that mine and my wife’s parenting efforts and verbal instructions are surprisingly language-independent. Provided that we stay consistent and on the same page, what one parent teaches can be reinforced by the other very readily without the need to build up the lesson in the other language from scratch.

Does this mean that I will let my wife do the heavy lifting on the parental discipline area? “NO!”

Do I like it when people ask themselves rethorical questions and then answer them? “no, thank you”

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