Twelve months going on sixteen.
August 09, 2010

Over the past two months, Charlotte has slowly begun to test the waters around her.  Sometimes that means that she explores new places or engages in new activities.  And other times it means that she deliberately behaves contrary to my direction and assesses my reaction.

Wow.  I can think of about five dozen people from my pre-baby life that would lose their minds if they heard those words fly out of my mouth.  Could I sound more like a parent there?!

Honestly, though, I think that’s exactly what my daughter is doing.  She knows, for example, that I discourage ripping books to shreds.  I do my best to never react with anger, frustration, or exasperation when she tears a page out of a book, but I do express my dissatisfaction.  I grab her hand to still the carnage and I firmly tell her NO.  Then I pull down the Scotch tape and show her how to fix it – and when we’re through, I thank her and tell her that I appreciate her helping me put the book back together.

At first, she tested the waters by scrunching up her face and letting loose a horrible moan and squeezing out a few crocodile tears every time I asked her not to rip a page.  If I said NO, she’d push me away and throw herself on the ground screaming.

After the tantrum tactic failed to garner her any attention, however, she began to test the waters in a more complex way.  Namely, when she ripped a page, she waited until I told her NO, and then she made eye contact, smiled, and tore it the rest of the way.  Then she waited to see what I would do.

I did what I always do.

And then, yesterday, when we were done taping the book up, I handed it back to her.  She looked at me, smiled, and then opened the book and ripped out two more pages.  Then she laughed like this was the funniest damned thing we’d ever done together. I guess that I need to read my parenting instruction manual a little more closely.  I thought that I had, like, fifteen years before my kid started flipping me the figurative bird.


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  1. By Heidi on August 09, 2010

    I’m only laughing because we’re dealing with the same thing over here…however, our defiance is mostly at the table.  She will pick up a black bean, eat one, then pick up another and give me a devilish (but oh-so-cute) smile.

  2. By on August 09, 2010

    Wishful thinking Sarah…

  3. By on August 09, 2010

    But just think-in 15 years you’ll WISH she was only tearing pages out of a book while laughing at you…hahaha!

  4. By on August 09, 2010

    Redirection might be your only hope through this phase.  Then again, maybe not.  It didn’t work for my little angel.  ;-)

  5. By WeeMasonMan's Mom on August 09, 2010

    Oh my gosh, maybe I don’t Little Man to grow up as fast as I thought I did. LOL

  6. By on August 09, 2010

    Do you have any board books you can stump her with for a few days? BTW, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!  Scoop her up, hug her close and remind yourself that she’s one!  Keep reinforcing that we use nice hands with books and then give her something she can rip the bejeezus out of instead. She might be intrigued by the sound the tearing paper makes, too. You could have her tear old magazines and use a glue stick and make a picture with her by glueing the pieces onto another piece of paper.

  7. By Molly on August 09, 2010

    So in a few months I have that to look forward to???  Even while ripping she’s still the cutest little thing ever:).

  8. By on August 10, 2010

    Ohhhh, when Jude laughs at me after I say no, that is hands down THE WORST! It doesn’t help the Ryan occasionally laughs with him. :(

    if it helps any… I love letting Jude play with books, but remembering back to my childhood all of our children’s books were doodled in with crayons, pages were missing and spines were falling apart. I wanted the books that we hand selected for Jude to also carry through to any other children we have undamaged. So, we have shelves up high in Jude’s room for all his good books. But since we encourage him to flip through some on his own, we keep the thick board books and cushiony soft books that are vituallu unable to be torn in a basket in the toy room for him to do as he pleases.

  9. By Heidi on August 11, 2010

    How ironic is it that you’re on a quest to promote literacy and your daughter is destroying books?

  10. By Sarah Christensen on August 11, 2010

    Heidi - SIGH.

    It is a little ironic, isn’t it?

  11. By Julia on August 11, 2010

    Lol.  You have a lot of patience!  My guess would be that she’ll suddenly surprise you very soon and totally stop tearing the pages. We never really had that issue becuase I only had board books available to him for the first year or so (I would have a firm grip on non-board books when reading to him).  Then - sometime between 14 and 16 months, I realized that he could be trusted not to rip them and we haven’t had an issue leaving them out since. 

    But then…you just constantly move from one issue to another (currently - it’s unlocking the deadbolt on the back door…)

  12. By Tracy Roberts on August 14, 2010

    I think Heidi nailed it.  I think we get practice in the areas where we need the most patience.  Charlotte is just testing out her world, but the mere fact that she has picked destroying books is possibly, there is possibly a lesson in that for mama?
    I hope to always keep my eyes open to that with Elijah.

  13. By on September 25, 2010

    I think this was about when we started Time-Out with Malakai. It was (and still is) very short, but he doesn’t like it and generally listens when I tell him not to do things. Somedays though, he doesn’t care and still purposefully rips his books or throws things across the room and time-out he goes. It always ends with an explanation and a hug of course. And he always scampers off to play with much delight at the end. :)

  14. By Tracy Roberts on September 25, 2010

    An article on Time Out for Mehassa and you Sarah….
    not a practice I would recommend.

    http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/peter_haiman.html


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