11.19.2007

Independent Walkers and Thinkers

Or The Treacherous Target Toy Aisle


I have a 17 month old boy. He likes to walk with me instead of being carried or being in a stroller, etc. He doesn't run away from me or anything, he just wants to do his own thing. I take my time with him and let him look, stop and do something but when I tell him to come, he never does unless I come take his arm (which usually results in the limp body trick).Are there any ways to help him obey my directions or is it too early to expect that???

It sounds like you've got a bright and independent little one! From the little bit you said, I would guess that obeying directions isn't really his style (yet). I think that you may have to help him decide that you want the same thing. Inspire his decision, make him believe that he decided it.

Example: Going to Target can be the longest experience of my life because the seven toy aisles take an hour to browse. But, if instead of saying, "Its time to go to the next aisle," I try something like feigning enthusiasm, runninh down the aisle exclaiming, "Look! Diego toys! Oh, wow, oh, look over here - Dora! I see Dora down here! Oh, look, this next aisle has even more toys! Come push this button, you've got to see what this Scoop can do!" Doing it this way we can get through the treacherous Target toy aisle in ten minutes! I set the tone and they were none the wiser.

So, I would suggest you lean down and whisper in his ear (almost like a secret) what you want him to do. Here are some words to try: "I just remembered there is a red fire truck in the car - I wonder where the car is?" OR "I see a big yellow bus over there - I wish I could see it" (the bus or other vehicle would be closer to your destination) OR "What is that over there? I wish I knew?"

Of course, I would start introducing the idea of following directions. Pick one or two things that are really important and just don't budge. So, if he wants to walk then be sure that when you come to a street you explain that he needs to hold your hand you you need to hold him. Give him to options and then if he doesn't choose, you choose. And just stick with it. It doesn't matter if the street is empty - its about principle. So, pick a few things (few being the key word) and don't budge. It will help him as he gets older to know that when you say something you really mean it!

Good luck!

Painting: Garden at V├ętheuil by Claude Monet

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