Thursday, October 16, 2008

Talking, understanding and deciding!

Did you know that it helps to actually sit down and talk to your child, actually explain things to her, regardless of how young she is?

A few weeks ago, at dawn, Puttachi awoke, perhaps to a bad dream, and started crying. I held her and tried to comfort her, but she continued whimpering. I would have held her for longer, but I had to visit the toilet urgently. I tried to pass her on to S~ and sneak away, but she caught on and bawled louder. So I looked into her eyes, and told her, "Puttachi, Amma needs to go to the toilet. I will be back in a minute. Until then, Papa will hold you. Alright?" Puttachi didn't answer. But she looked at me seriously. I then handed her over to S~, and left. No protest.

I was at my parents' place last weekend, and Puttachi followed my father around like his shadow. When my father had to leave for work in the morning, Puttachi watched him come out of the room, dressed to leave, and she grew uneasy. When he moved towards the door, she wailed and followed him, stamping her feet in protest. My father looked at me with a questioning "What shall we do?" look. "Why don't you explain to her where you are going and when you will be back?" I suggested. My father knelt, got down to her level, and said, "Puttachi, I have to go to work now. I will be back in the evening, and then we can play. Ok?" Puttachi listened with concentration, and then smiled, and waved, "Bye!" She then turned and sauntered in coolly, and went back to her toys.

It is working. Talking to her as if she can understand. And perhaps she does understand a little. Many of her could-have-been tantrums have been nipped in the bud just because I gave her a sincere, long-winded explanation on why she cannot have her way right now, and why she can later. I have no idea if she understands anything at all, but she does tend to listen to me after that.

On another note, one thing I have learnt is not to underestimate how much a child can understand. They catch on to keywords in your speech, and by the tone of your voice, they know exactly what you are saying. Naturally, S~ and I have started spelling words, speaking in Hindi (She seems to understand English too), so that she doesn't understand what we are saying.

One more thing - I realised that kids are never too young to want to take a decision of their own! Just about a week ago, someone was telling me about a two-year old who insisted on choosing the clothes she wanted to wear. "That early?" I was really surprised. The very next day, as I was trying to get Puttachi to wear her trousers to go out to the park, she made a huge fuss coz she wanted to wear her old pink pyjamas instead. Phew! It took lots of talking and some distractions to bring her around to wearing what I wanted her to wear. And I know I will not be on the winning side for much longer!

She also wants to make the call on what she will eat and when, and how. I thought I had a baby. What I have is a young, independent seventeen-month-old decision-maker.

Life never ceases to surprise you!

[Aside: Thanks a million to everybody who took the time and trouble to vote for me in the Bloggers' choice awards. The voting has closed, and the winner got 489 votes, and my count when I last saw it was around 27. :) But what really matters is that 26 of you (1 vote is mine :D) actually took that effort to sign up and vote for me - and that, for me, counts as a lot!]

13 comments:

Anu said...

It is wonderful that you discovered this so early. This is exactly how it works with V. When he was little, a number of people had commented that I talk to him as if he was an adult. If we want the child to understand our point of view, we have to show him the courtesy of treating him like an intelligent being and explaining it to him.
Decision making too. It will help to actually ask Puttachi to select what she wants to wear. It helps build confidence. When she selects her clothes most of the time, if sometime you feel she has made a wrong choice and you tell her why, she will "decide" to wear what you suggest.
Long time since I commented. But this post made me really happy and so....

Jennifer said...

Nice post. I agree. I think this is a good habit you and your family will instill. In fact, I think Puttachi will calm down not because she fully understands what you are saying, but because you are taking the time to acknowledge her anxiety/fear/sadness (feelings) about why someone is leaving. You aren't simply going...that can be scary to anyone at any age!!

rajk said...

Nice post! It made Anu comment!! Bravo!!
I actually remember Anu talking to V like that and now, even I find that it works, not every time..but mostly it does. I think, no matter what age they are at, children can feel it (if not understand it) when they see that adults are trying to understand them and explain things to them. Now if only I can remember to be patient enough to "talk" to my son always!!

Bhupi said...

Hey Shurti, I'm sorry I could not vote for you. I visited your blog after a few days and now the voting has closed. Soooooooooo sorryyyyyyyyyyyyy.

I'm so glad Puttachi is such a bright gal....God bless her!

praneshachar said...

your keen observations all the efforts or research I call are worth a million$ I also agree childen of this age may not understand in tito what u say bu can catch the wrods and see your moods by looking and you and respond positively this is very true. your experimenting strengths are always amazing and it always works thats gr8. keep going and come out with more and more such things for general awareness
pranesh

snippetsnscribbles said...

hey Shruthi :) This post is sooo good :) I think "I" am learning a lot through your experiments although I dont have a kid of my own. Atleast I can apply it when I have one of my own :)

What I have seen here in the US is also the same as what you have spoken here. Talking to the kids like they can understand. I have seen many people here that keep talking to the kids in a way that they can understand and it almost seems to work. Like the other day in a store, I saw a lady keenly looking at her baby in the stroller and going "Daddy will be right back, honey. Until then Mommy will be with you right here. Alright? Do you want to tell me what you did at school today?". It worked. The kid began talking about school and it was a win-win!

And about the winner of Blogger Choice Awards, I think every mother is a winner :) Keep blogging :)

Any Sunday Afternoon said...

Interesting read. I always get asked this question, were you ready when you decided to have a kid. Well, I dont know if I was ready, how could I know about something which I have never experienced. But, now that I have a kid, I know I was ready, ready to play with him, ready to smile on his smile and ready to walk him around while he tries to sleep.

Read this, when you have time: http://anysundayafternoon.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-do-you-look-like-dad.html

Kanika said...

Very true Shruthi. You know as a teenager whenever my mum used to ask me not to do something i used to feel like rebelling against her because it made me feel that she doesn't trust my judgement enough to let me take my own decisions. But when that "Thou shalt not" commandment used to accomapany a reason y it shudn't be done It used to make me see the consequences and make me feel that I have been given a choice that I can do whatever I want but if I do this it might have serious repercussions. Guess the same logic works with kids as well!! :)

Nalini said...

I remember how your father used to talk / explain things to you and P~ when you were little girls and how both of you would understand the issue and act/decide acordingly. No wonder Puttachi does the same.

veena said...

hey i visited ur blog for the first time yesterday.........i loved ur writing .......its very natural nd also ur daughter puttachi.....now i have become a regular reader of ur blog...........

Anonymous said...

I would never underestimate a toddlers power to comprehend when an adult is speaking to them. Based on my own experience with my son we are taken by surprise many times by what he says and how he reacts to our conversations.

Recently I just asked my toddler son a simple question, "Do you like Daddy?" he said "Yes". I followed up by asking "Do you like Mommy?" he said "Yes". I was curious to know what he would answer if I asked him to reason behind his answers and asked him "Why do you like Daddy?". To my surprise he said "I like Daddy because Daddy plays football with me and read stories". We never knew he could reason that way and we could only wonder about his cognitive skills.

Meanwhile it is not too early to read them stories and ask them questions related to the story like what color was the bird in the story, what's the color of the hat the boy was wearing in story etc. etc. Believe me, they know more and understand more than we parents think they do.

Good post.

Vish
NY.

praneshachar said...

Shruthi
Bloggers' choice awards. The voting has closed, and the winner got 489 votes, and my count when I last saw it was around 27. :) But what really matters is that only 26 of us actually took that effort to sign up and vote for you certainly you deserve much more neverthless the nominations was fine thouhgt - and participation is very important and we are proud you were on of the nominees. yes awareness in our side appears to be less on this and voting pattern shows that. with all this your blog was not in low down it was in the few tops in first 25 or so one time even it was in no. 5 spot what was finale i am not sure. but the nominator deserves a applause and you have done it we are proud of this blog have great times ahead
pranesh

Tejo said...

I thnk i hv stummbled upon a nice blog...

Gd time readin abt ur baby....
She s such a cutie ....


Keep adding more ( whn she gives u time to write on... :-)

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