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Jane Yee: The game of no

Jane Yee
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JANE AND VICTOR

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Hey, you guys, I don't suppose you've seen my placid little cherub hiding away anywhere? It seems someone has swapped him with a cheeky, violent little monster and I'm kinda keen to trade back.

As he approaches 10 months little Vic has really taken to abusing his poor old mum and as a result I'm covered in tiny scratches and bruises. When we're having cuddles he'll be all cute, sucking his thumb and reaching out for my face with his other hand as if he wants to tenderly stroke my cheek. Then he'll do one of the following: gouge my eyes, curl his finger up my nose and pull, stick his finger in my mouth scratch at my gums then fishhook my lip when I try to remove it.

When he's feeding he repeatedly scratches my chest with one hand and pinches the back of my arm with the tiny little pincers of his other hand. Back of the arm pinches are just the best aren't they? No, they are not.

He's even taken to straight up hitting me in the face when I get between him and whatever dangerous activity it is he wants to partake in. Like throwing himself off the couch. I am such a stink mum, trying to protect him like that.

Most of the time he thinks he's being funny. He'll do something that hurts me or is dangerous to himself, or he'll start reaching for things he shouldn't be getting his little mitts on and I'll say "ouch" or "no!" or "stop it," and he just loves getting a response so he turns it into a game.

I've heard that instead of simply barking "no" I should follow with an explanation so he doesn't just pick up the word "no" and start using it himself.

"No Victor, don't suck on the laptop charger, it's dangerous"

"No, don't pull my hair, that's not very nice and it hurts"

"No, you mustn't pull out Daddy's records because they're not toys for babies"

"No, you shouldn't roll over while I'm changing your nappy or you will fall off the change table and break your neck"

I feel like an idiot saying these things because I'm sure all he hears is "no, blah blah blah blah" - and the "no" bit seems to be his cue to just carry on doing whatever it is he shouldn't be doing.

I'd love to be able to communicate to him that certain things are not okay, because he's reached the stage where he's beginning to know words have meanings - he understands "cuddle", "waving" and "clap your hands" - but it seems teaching him to do something is a lot easier than teaching him to not do something. It's tricky because I'm guessing he's too young to know the difference between right and wrong - he has no idea he's being a bit naughty, so I can't really get annoyed at him for constantly disobeying and physically abusing me.

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So where to from here? I'm worried that if I ignore any bad behaviour that he'll have no reason to think it's not okay, but if we carry on the way we are that he'll think being told "no" is just part of a fun game. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

- Essential Mums

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