Friday, January 6th, 2012
Somewhere between an outdated Mike Tyson joke and a sarcastic reference to the Twilight series is the knowledge that today, my 13 month-old bit two other kids at his daycare.
How was I supposed to respond when my wife told me about it?
A) Oh no! Not our son! WHAT DO WE DO?!
B) Well… well… I didn’t teach him to do that? Did you?
C) Alright then, tonight when I get home I’m going to sit him down and have a serious talk with him. Plus, his punishment will be that he can’t play with our cell phones for a week!
What was my actual response? I laughed. Yeah, I’ve already established the fact that I have this unfortunate habit of encouraging my son’s bad behavior by laughing and applauding him for it. But seriously, it’s not like he bites us.
So where did he learn to bite his peers?
Maybe from them. Maybe he’s just trying out his newly received teeth?
Or maybe he’s just a baby and that’s just one of the weird things some toddlers do? That’s my vote.
Am I supposed to feel guilty that my son bit two of his friends today? Should I feel some urge to further explain or research his behavior?
Nah, he’ll be fine.
Or will he… now that he has a taste for true blood? (Insert clever Twilight reference here.)
Image: Red apple with bite, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, December 26th, 2011
In theory, prerecorded laughs and canned applause help remind us how funny our mediocre sitcoms are. They serve as that little morale boost; one that we barely even notice. It turns out, the same basic idea works on training a toddler.
My son Jack is really starting to learn some cool tricks these days, like blowing kisses (thanks to my wife) or fetching a ball (thanks to me.)
But he is also accidently being taught new tricks when he mimics sounds or actions that I subconsciously approve of through my laughter or by me clapping my hands.
This “positive reiforcement” style of teaching him is a good thing. After all, it’s pretty easy to teach a toddler to do something when all you have to do is reward the behavior by cheering him on. But it can be a bad thing too.
For example, when playing with a “toy” like a wooden spoon or a book, he often hits himself in the face with it. Or less sadomasochist, he will try to scratch (or break) my nose when I am playing with him.
What do I do? I laugh. Because it’s funny.
I know I shouldn’t. I’m really trying not to. But it’s so hilarious when he tries to hurt me or himself; especially knowing it’s just for an innocent laugh. After all, that’s what made The Three Stooges so successful back in their day.
A few weeks ago for my wife’s Christmas party for her work at Vanderbilt University, Jack was a star. In a banquet room comprised largely of Taiwanese and Chinese scientists and their families, Jack was the golden boy to carry around to all the tables.
Only I wasn’t the one featuring him as the secondary entertainment for the night.
Instead, the main person carrying him to each table was a woman who probably didn’t weigh a hundred pounds. As she laughingly toted him to another new table, which was quite a sight in itself because he’s no small bambino, Jack reached up and hit her in the face. She went on joyfully with him, but I have to admit, I felt pretty bad about it.
Note to self: Stop encouraging your son to do bad things by laughing or clapping when he does something he shouldn’t… no matter how funny it is.
Even when he bangs his head against the door repeatedly and laughs about it. (Especially when he bangs his head against the door repeatedly and laughs about it!)
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