The age of defiance is upon us

And, frankly, I don’t know what to do. He’s 14 months old.  In many respects he still seems like a baby. In many others he seems like he’s one step away from snatching the keys to the car from my hand and flying out the door before I even have time to shout, “don’t do anything STUPID!”  He’s very much into pushing boundaries these days, testing us, and showing off.

For example, I will say, “No, Kendall.  Don’t play in the dog water.” He will look me dead in the eyes, put his hand in the dog water with the purpose and precision of a surgeon and then shake his head no, as if to say, “Let me get this straight. THIS is what you don’t want me to do, right? Putting my hand in the dog water just like this? Oh, yes.  I know that. See.  Noooooo.”  

So is he understanding no? Can you punish a 14 month old for deliberately disobeying you when you aren’t even sure if he knows he’s disobeying you? I certainly don’t want to condone the behavior.  It’s one thing when he demonstrates with the dog water, but quite another if he is trying to break into the gas fireplace.

I’ve tried the distraction, positive reinforcement method, but I don’t think he’s getting it.  It’s such a weird place to be, in limbo between baby and child.  I’m not ready for a toddler yet.  I’m just now figuring out what to do with the baby.  Pause, please.

Kendall will be 14 months in the blink of an eye, and 14 shortly after

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  1. I am not a mother … however, I have been babysitting since I was 15 (I’m 24 now) and took a whole bunch of classes on this stuff in school.

    Instead of telling him what not to do, try telling him what you do want him to do. I have found that this helps a ton. Like when I’m giving kids a bath and all they want to do is splash instead of telling them to stop, I tell them that they need to keep the water in the bathtub.

    Little kids have really tiny working memory so what you say to them is what they will think about.

    I hope this helps even a little! Good luck!!

  2. I’m not a mom yet, but I asked my mom her opinion – I think she’s a great mom! She said he’s testing you. He’s old enough to know what he’s doing and you need to be the one to win. So maybe a quick pat on the hand? Not spanking, but just something to let him know you mean no.

  3. As I was reading this, my 13.5 month old was seconds away from splashing his hand in the cat bowl. That stupid bowl of water is our current battle.

    If you find something that works to keep him out of that, please, by all means share. In fact, I’ll pay you for the information. 🙂

  4. I feel ya on this. Keeping Addy out of the dog water and out of the fireplace is next to impossible. BUT I did realize with the electronics after many many stern NOs and stern faces made her way that when she would get close to it, turn her head to look at me, hear me say no, and reach out to touch it anyway, she was as you said in your post, learning that NO means not to do the action she was doing at the time. So when she finally pulled her hand away I praised her for leaving the electronics alone and somehow it has worked.

    We are still working on the dog water, but she’s like a bug to light with that one. I actually caught her trying to drink out of it the other day…like a dog.

  5. Oh, Kristal, I can’t imagine the joy of being your mother’s child if she had to “win” every disciplining battle with her children. Yikes.

    He’s still a baby in some respects, even if it doesn’t seem like it. My little guy repeats anything fun over, and over, and over again, so it makes sense that he’s repeating behaviors that I don’t like, too. Repetition is the name of the game at this stage. That, and the lack of a little something called “impulse control” can make for some verrry long days around here…

  6. My son is the same age as Kendall. I just redirect, redirect, redirect. Sometimes it works better than others. And it does make for long days sometimes. But I think it’s the best way to handle it at this age.

  7. Our battlefield these days is the garbage can. It’s one of those tall ones, with the lid that swings back and forth … he thinks it’s a swell place to put, well, everything. I’ve found toys, magnets, socks, tupperware, and the dog’s leash in there. Who knows how much random stuff I’ve missed. I will say ‘No no no sweet mouse’ and redirect, and he will go again and again and again over there, dropping anything he can find into a swirling germy can of filth. So gross. I would rather him go back to eating the dog food.

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