Using the words "good" and "bad"

Nellie - posted on 02/19/2011 ( 53 moms have responded )

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I am 100% against using the word "bad" in any form refering to any actions at all that my daughter has done. She's 8 months old and I've slipped up once saying in frustaration "stop being bad". That wasnt after months of my daughter being sick and her being hystarical screaming for hours and hours and hour daily. I'ma single parent with next to no support. I'm not justifing it, I felt horrible, but it was an honest mistake. But lately I've been thinking. I do use the word "good" and it seems to me like a contdiction. I'll say things in frustration like "why can't you be good?" Any opinions on this?

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Nikki - posted on 02/19/2011

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I don't use the words bad or naughty and I try and avoid good, unless I am praising a specific behaviour. For example "you did a good job tidying your toys" generally I use well done, that's great, etc. I don't believe in labelling the child but rather the actual behaviour that is happening at the time.

Renae - posted on 02/19/2011

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I think its ok to use a negative when you are referring to the behaviour, not the child. For example, "that was a very naughty/wrong/hurtful thing to do, you know not to pull hair/hit/snatch toys/throw food" or whatever. I do use the term "oh you are such a good boy!" to praise my son when he does something especially without being told. He recently started taking his dishes to the sink and wiping his little table down, without being shown or asked, so I think a "good boy" is appropriate, he is nearly 2. Its not so much the words I use when I praise him that he likes, its the tone, the smile, the jumping and clapping etc! lol :)

I do feel I need to add that at 8 months your baby has very FEW deliberate behaviours. Most of her behaviour is still outside of her conscious control. In order for a child to be behave in a good or bad way, the action needs to be deliberate and they need to understand exactly what they are doing. I think you already know this and I understand how hard it is not to say things in frustration that you dont really mean, I'm sure I've done it myself.

Angie - posted on 02/19/2011

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I try not to tell my children that they are bad but I will tell them that their action is bad. When children are very young, it's easy to say that this is not a wise thing to do but when a child is 10 years old and is doing something that is bad, it's best to be honest with them and tell them that their action is bad. The world is not all lollipops, they will be told that what they are doing is wrong when they get older and I think it's wise that they learn to take that type of honest critisism at home so that they're aren't crushed when it happens in the real world.

Cathy - posted on 03/02/2011

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its not really about their being "good" or "bad" all children are good and want to please their parents. its about our lanquage choice. what about reminding a child to make a "good" choice or "bad" choice? give them the power to make the choice and show them the consequences of making "bad" choices. children need to be encouraged to know they are responsible for their choices.

Tiffany - posted on 03/02/2011

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Please excuse me if I sound a bit abrasive, but I've always wondered something...I understand the concept of positive reinforcement, but how is a child to learn that an action is unacceptable if all that s done is to redirect his/her attention? That seems more like we are putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the behavior, which teaches the child to do the same thing instead of addressing and making the child understand WHY a certain act or behavior is bad or unacceptable. I do not, in any way, tell my children that THEY are bad, but I am not afraid to tell them that they are behaving negatively. I didn't exactly grow up in the best of situations for my psyche either. I know what TOO MUCH negativity can do, but it is our job, as parents, to find the correct balance, rather than sugar-coating the outside world. Otherwise our children are going to be in for a rude awakening and won't be able to handle the reality that there will be times that people will be angry with them. I guess my point is how can a child learn about things that they are not permitted to face or taught how to deal with?

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Heather - posted on 03/13/2011

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I think that's great what your doing? But doesn't it get hard? I find myself all the time thinking that my daughter is acting bad. What's wrong with saying "your actions are bad"? As long as I make sure she knows her herself is not bad, but the actions she's doing is bad, then what's wrong with it? I tell her she's being good all the time... I don't really see any harm in that either.

Patricia - posted on 03/04/2011

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i don't think bad is such a horrible word providing your child understands i say naughty usually sometimes bad i don't think you are a bad parent single mums have the hardest job and do a great job ar being a mum i am a mum of 9 and my husband does nothing and pays for nothing and is never home lately i feel like a single mum might as wekk be

Dee - posted on 03/03/2011

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I have 2 boys my oldest is now 5 and my youngest is 19 months. I do let me children know when they are doing something that they are not supposed to. Generally with a no and explain to them why. But I always praise good behaviour. My oldest sometimes does not want to listen when he is asked to get dressed for school. When he does listen I tell him thank you for listening Tyler I really appreciate that. Letting them know they are doing something bad is just a way a teaching them what is good behaviour and what isn't. I don't usually tell them they are bad although I have. But as an example running onto the road. I have told him that was bad and he was being a bad boy for not listening to mommy. I explain to him the consequences of doing this. I told him I loved him and didn;t want anything bad to happen to him and that being hit by a car would really hurt him. He understood and doesn't even go acrossed the road until I let him know it's safe and I am there with him. He's now 5 and knows when it's safe but he won't cross until giving him the ok it's safe.
I do not think letting him know in that situation he was being bad was a bad decision.

Corena - posted on 03/02/2011

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I tell my son that *insert behaviour here* is unacceptable. he is only 2 and he absolutely understands what I am telling him. He gets Way more praise for good behaviour than he does reprimanding for bad behaviour. Not that he behaves all the time, we just make a much bigger deal when his behaviour is good.

[deleted account]

I believe a child acts in the way that you describe him. If you tell her she is a 'good girl' then she feels inclined to be that way,,,so as to not 'let you down'. When you are constantly telling your child he is 'bad' that is the way the he thinks he is expected to act...almost like "hey, I'm being bad and it's ok, so why not keep doing it?" I am a firm believer in refraining from using the word 'bad' as well. It makes me cringe to hear mothers constantly calling their kids bad!

I don't think you did anything wrong though. It was an honest mistake and I'm sure your daughter dwells more on the many other times that you use positive talk. Don't beat yourself up over this.

Jennifer - posted on 03/02/2011

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I like the word "naughty" - seems less judgmental than "bad". Also, I have gotten in the habit of asking my son, "are you being the best boy you can be?" -- he's two and he understands completely. He will say "no" and then I simply ask him to behave like the "best boy". Also, I have started the concept of "disrespectful" - instead of saying that is a "bad" word, I'll say "we don't use that because it is disrespectful". .. he get's it.

Lindsay - posted on 03/02/2011

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I use "okay" and "not okay." I did with my 12 year old and I do with my 14 month old b/g twins. It addresses the current action or behavior rather than who they are (good/bad). It worked well with my older one. Sometimes experiences like the one you had will cause us to be too hard on ourselves. Especially when trying to "go it alone." Single parenting is tough, but even cooperative parents whether married or not make mistakes. Learn and move on, if you dwell on stuff too long the guilt can suffocate you and then you'll start doing unnecessary things to "make it up" to the kids. Relax. Deep breaths. You'll make it happen!

Ilana - posted on 03/01/2011

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Don't say the child is good or bad, rather what they did is good or bad. There is nothing wrong with saying "good job" or "its bad to hit".

Tammarah - posted on 03/01/2011

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I usually say 'that's not nice' or 'stop that, it's naughty', 'that lovely'. Kids usually pick up on the tone before they understand the word. It is hard to break to cycle though. If you were raised being told good or bad it will be harder to break. I was always told 'you have to the count of three, one, two, three,smack'. I try in a normal voice "branson that's not nice' or 'do not do that'. Then 'Mummy will use her angry voice if you do not stop.' then in my angry voice 'Branson, stop that now"
I know it hard especially when they are sick or tired, don't be so hard on yourself. chances are shes forgotten it and it's affected you more than her. Just remember all (well most) kids are good, it's thier actions and behaviour which are not.

Maryanne - posted on 03/01/2011

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First of all always praise the deed not the doer. Your 8-mo old is being an 8-mo old. You ought to learn how to deal with your frustration instead of taking it out on her. It is all about controlling yourself. When you feel this take time out until you could get a grip of yourself. Your daughter will never heal from striking words. So check yourself and if you can't do this seek professional counseling. And when the child gets older you can say "that behavior is not acceptable"...crying is acceptable for babies. And she feels your frustration but does not know how to react to it.

Anne - posted on 03/01/2011

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hey, i do agree and disagree, my son is 2y2m and i do use the word "bad", i avoid telling him he is bad, because he is not, i always try to say that doing certain things, like taking away toys, or hitting another child, is bad...i think as long as you don't sceram at kids hysterically they do get the point, feelings, praising as well as critics belomg to life and i want my son to learn that, i do not want him to have a "break down" because at some point he will face these "words" anyways, so if he knows from me how to take them he will be able to deal with it better

[deleted account]

this is a good question. ive never really put too much thought to it. My daughter is one and a half in a few days and im 99% sure ive never called her bad... but thats because its not really something i thought would
a) make any sense to her anyway
b) be good for her self esteem
i have a couple of times said, "thats a naughty thing to do, stop." but i've never come out with "bad"..it seems too mean! lol.

Most of the time its just a simple "NO." followed by the reason for the no in a word or two, such as "no, ouchies." or "no, hot" etc. it works a treat... most of the time lol.

I think we shouldnt speak negatively over our children by calling THEM bad, but making them aware that their behavior is bad is necessary. So weather its a
"Its not nice to hit your big sister, no more" or "yelling at kids at kindi is a bad idea because you wont make friends that way. Do good things like sharing instead"

i think there is nothing wrong with using the words good or bad in the correct context. They need to know what the words mean, and they need to know the difference between right and wrong.

Although id lean towards actually using the words right and wrong instead of good and bad because they are more easily applied to actions rather than the childs personality which is not "bad" or "Good" but just who they are and needs to be steered in the correct direction so they grow into respectful, kind and lovely kids, teens and adults.

Elfrieda - posted on 02/24/2011

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Nellie, I like thinking about parenting this way: My parents sure weren't perfect, but they loved me and did a MUCH better job than their parents did raising them. If I work at it and do a better job than they did, my son will be able to do a better job than me! Well this cycle is just so encouraging, isn't it! :)

That said, I'm not against using the word "bad" with my 14 month old son. When he hits the cat, I say, "No, that's bad. We don't hit the cat, we are gentle, ah-ah." and I take his hand and make him stroke the cat properly. And when I ask him to do little chores like put a toy away or turn off a light, I say, "Now put the duck in the basket." He does it, and I say, "Good!" I don't think it'll damage him at all, and I don't think you did any harm to your daughter when you were frustrated. She won't remember it! :)

Kristy - posted on 02/24/2011

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If bad what they are being bad is what they are, and they should known it, Have fun later if you are only telling your kid that they are good and nice, then there will be another child that can do no wrong and can't handle pressure or any thing negative. Remeber the real words out there with words alot worse than bad.

Amy - posted on 02/24/2011

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I tell my son he is "making bad choices." Like when he took the cup in the bathtub and filled it up with water and then dumped the whole thing on the bathroom floor, "Bad choice!" The same goes with the word "good." "Good listening. Good manners. Good job putting your toys away." If you make it about the behavior, rather than the child, it makes a difference.

Laura - posted on 02/24/2011

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I am a single mom, too. But I do get a lot of assistance from my parents. My dad is my son's main caregiver while I'm at work.

I remember the baby stage being really tough. Especially because infants can't verbalize what is bothering them. I kept my son on a routine so that I would have a better idea of what was bothering him. Depending on age he was fed every four hours. If he was crying at two hours, I knew it wasn't because of hunger. That left me knowing he either had a wet/dirty diaper or he was just craving attention.

When my son and I play together, I praise him when he does a great job putting a puzzle together. I praise him when he helps me clean. He loves helping. I'm into doing a high fives and telling him that he is awesome when he comes home with a school project that he wants to show me or he tells me that he peed and pooped on the potty when I wasn't home.

When I get upset with him, I tell him why I'm upset. For example, he just got a new train set for his birthday. He gets so frustrated when the trains derail and he begins throwing the trains. I try to reason with him first and explain why he can't do that. When he doesn't listen, I remove him from the train set, take him into another room, sit him on the couch, and have a conversation with him. Once he calms down, I let him go back and play with his train set.

If he does something really rotten like slapping his cousin across the face for no reason, I will tell him that he is not being nice and that his behavior is naughty. He just turned 3 and I still don't think he understands why he can't hit his cousin simply because he is upset.

When you can't control your frustration and you know you are going to say something that is going to make you feel badly later, the best thing that you can do is remove yourself from the situation. Put your daughter in her playpen, crib, or someplace that she will be safe so you can take a minute or two regain composure.

It really is tough being a single parent. If you can, try to find a single parent group. I organize a group for single parents in NJ. When you make friends with other single parents whom you feel comfortable with, it's easy to ask for help. One of the parents in our group feels comfortable asking me to take her two kids on occasion. I will take them to a group function where we all keep an eye on the kids so that a member can just get a breather for a few hours.

I haven't reached the point of wanting alone time. Since I feel like I'm always working, I love spending every possible minute with my little guy.

Hang in there. It will get easier.

Dora - posted on 02/23/2011

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Some actions are good, some are bad. Your child develops conscience when you teach her the difference. Make sure you emphasize it's the action - not the person that is bad. You're a single parent with next to no support. That's hard enough without being stressed over making sure you use all the "correct"terminology. Relax.

Dawnie - posted on 02/23/2011

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A behaviour maybe "bad" and the child needs to know this. Try not to say bad boy but let the child be aware of the unacceptable behaviour. And when the behaviour or action is positive also let the child be aware of this in an exuberant and affirming manner. As parents we must use those adjectives so that our children know right from wrong.

Melissa - posted on 02/23/2011

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The power of vocabulary is amazing. Telling my kids not to say something, and refusing to say something to them to prevent harm and be tricky. My kids are taught not to say "stupid" because I told them it was a bad word! If I say "this stupid drawer is stuck!" I hear my 3 year old say, "mommy, no saying stupid..." with a disapproving look on his face. At your daughter's age, she is going to learn to be more understanding of language, but she probably isn't looking into your phrases like, "Whay can't you be good?" meaning "You are being bad right now". I don't think they try to be good or bad at 8 months, they are just exploring and finding their limits. If she's getting into something, just say "NO" and move her away from it. Repitition is so important. I have found that if I have a stern voive when saying "no" and using a big positive reinforcement when they do the right thing, they decide they want to do that more because they got a reaction. Sometimes they just want a reaction from you and if it is negative they'll take it, and if its funny looking and negative- even better! But positive and fun, can triumph both. My husband was having a bad day and yelled at my son once in the bathtub because he refused to let him wash his foot, he said "Give me your foot" in a growl, and my son thought it was hilarious and will never let it go! Every now and then he'll growl "give me your foot!!" e all slip up and when we break our own rules, it can feel worse to us than to others!

Candyce - posted on 02/23/2011

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Nellie, I totally understand saying something out of frustration, especially when your own parents did it. There are some things my mother did because her mother did them, until she realized she didn't agree with it. Same with me (precisely the reason I rarely spank my son now). I didn't grow up hearing "bad" too much, because my mother believed that if you speak something into a child's life, it will come to pass. So I do the same with my own son, and when he does act up or make a mistake, he'll be the first to correct someone who calls him bad. He knows bad is for actions. Even then, it's phrased specifically (disobedient, hardheaded, defiant) so he knows precisely what he did wrong. Actually, we use the words "right" and "wrong" more than "bad" or "good". Right and wrong impy a choice; bad and good imply a character trait.

Blessed Be

Meghan - posted on 02/23/2011

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I NEVER tell my son he is being bad. I will say his behavior is unacceptable, but I think "bad" can be damaging. He has picked the word up at daycare and will tell me that so and so was bad today. I tell him "No one is bad. Maybe they weren't doing what they were asked too, but they aren't bad!" With positive things, I try to be more specific than just "you're being so good right now." If he is doing something great, I tell him specifically "mommy LOVES that you are cleaning up you're toys! Thank you!" "Aren't you proud of yourself for....mommy is proud of you!"
As exhausting as it is, I really try to give him emotion words to work with (aggravation, frustration etc)

Katie - posted on 02/22/2011

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I like to reinforce good behavior, but my little one is very stubborn and if she sees she's not acting properly (even without being told) will almost always attempt again at some point.

Things that have worked well for her (and have since she's been under a year) have been like:

Instead of saying, "You've been bad" something like "It helps mommy when you do instead."

"You need calm time, so mommy can help you."

"If you stop crying, it helps me to help you."

Time outs. Seriously. I would have gone insane and my daughter would not be as well behaved as she is today were it not for time outs. See how long she “gets it,” or after put in time-out if she can understand a statement such as “You’re waiting until you can stop screaming.”

Restating that positive actions receive quicker responses, or more accurate responses, can be good.

A lot of what helped my daughter was communication, teaching her basic signs did amazing things for her behavior.

I should end with saying, at least as long as the child can understand what you're saying (we hit this around 9-14 months), I have no problem with calmly explaining to a child that they have "been bad" but I always try to be specific. As in, "Taking a toy without asking is not being a good friend," or "We have to clean up when you throw food." And discipline can be very useful, it just has to be discipline and not punishment

Sonia - posted on 02/22/2011

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There is nothing wrong with using either word as long as you don't say they were bad or good. You have to state what what was done was bad or what was done was good. They themselves are not bad what they did was bad. I raised two wonderful kids this way. They are now 25 and 21 years old.

Rachael - posted on 02/22/2011

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We used the word (and the sign for) bad when refferring to things that shouldn't be put in the mouth. We made a ucky face as we said it too. So, my son grew up learning the word in that context. (Funny story...my mother-in-law once told my son to move out of the way of the TV and used the word 'bad'. I came in from the kitchen and told her, "He thinks you're trying to tell him to not eat the TV.") Anyway, to keep consistant with your philosophy of not labeling good or bad, try giving praise for actions. Also, use words like bravo, fantastic, super, right on, or get in a high-five if she'll do it. If she is doing something that is less than desireable, say, "No, please" or "owie (and make the sign for hurt, which is two index fingers pointing in at echother.) Focus more on identifying the behaviors that are negative and addressing them individually. Not everything is bad, but things can deffinitely be dangerous, or unkind.

Jenifer - posted on 02/22/2011

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I never tell my little 2 year old that she is bad, or good, she does that herself. I do tell her if an action is a bad action or a good action, not her. or if something is a honest mistake and my little girl asks if she is bad, I tell her no, it was a mistake and all mistakes are needed for learning to know how to do better next time. If she looks me in the eye and does something i have said no to then yes i will tell her that what she just did was bad, again never telling her she is personally bad but that action was bad. and same way with good. that she is not personally good but the action she does.

Keri - posted on 02/22/2011

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When a child is 8 months old, there's no such thing as "good" or "bad" to them anyway. Unless you reinforced it through some sort of action (taking something away, putting them in their room/crib) they're not old enough to make a connection like that.

Brandee - posted on 02/22/2011

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We use the terms "acceptable" and "unacceptable" when referring to our toddlers behaviors and actions. Thanks to Supernanny Jo Jo

Allison - posted on 02/22/2011

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I LOVE that my pediatrician uses the words "common" and "uncommon" not "normal". My daycare teaches "not my favorite" instead of "don't like" or "hate". I slip up, but I describe my son's actions not him. A label of good, tidy, tired, sad, naughty, ..... on the action never about him. I'm a single mom and get tired too. I'm also human and guarantee I will make a mistake. But I'm trying hard and that's what counts. Praise yourself for being aware of the issue and trying to do what's best for your child as often as you can.

Nellie - posted on 02/22/2011

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amanda, sure, youre fine now but think back to when it happened. no child reacts positivly to thinking that theyre bad. ill bet you anything that when you were a child being called bad didnt make you feel too good. children react much better to "hitting ______ wasnt very nice, that hurt _______. You need to play gentle.`` its not easy for me to pratice this, as i wasnt raised that way. but i truly believe positive discipline works wonders, so im putting a huge effort to do so.

Amanda - posted on 02/22/2011

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I have used the word bad as in "you are being bad" but after reading somethings on circle of moms has realized what calling him bad could do...I am trying to do things different now and if I call him bad I appoligize to him (he is 4 and very smart) and I explain that he was not bad that what he said or did was not nice..and if he is good In tell him he is good..your doing a good job, or you were so good for me while we were in the store today...etc...I agree with not calling your child bad because it is very negative but when I was "bad" my parents would say stop being bad and I am fine...

BARBARA - posted on 02/22/2011

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I agree with you using the word bad when a child is young brings on the expections that your child is mean or ugly when only there behaving like a normal child there's different ways to suggest to a child about better behavior

Laura - posted on 02/22/2011

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Nellie, I got it! And it sounds like you're doing an excellent job of changing how you react and behave--so keep it up! Recognition of a problem, even if it's the choice of words we use, is how you can begin to solve it. If you keep doing those new behaviors/choices, they will soon be " good habits".

And nothing that you have described, including your word choices, indicate that you are a bad mom. On the contrary; you seem to be a very observant and aware mom in order to catch yourself using words that may not be the best choices to use. Not many people are that self-aware! That right there solves a good portion of your language problem. You are now making good choices about your words and it will have excellent pay-offs for you as your daughter grows and becomes more aware of her actions. By then you'll be a pro at "positive re-enforcement" and praise!

Nellie - posted on 02/22/2011

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@ Laura I just realized I probably didn't word that right. I didn't mean that you made me feel bad, but that I feel bad at myself because I feel like a bad mom.

Nellie - posted on 02/22/2011

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Laura, that is right, but that made me feel even worse with myself. I know its not my daughters fault, it's just hard for me to deal with the frustration in a positive way, without using the words good or bad, especially since I grew up being called bad constantly. Over the pat few days, I've put in a real effort to correct my vocabulary. When she cries when I put her down I say Please be patient while Mommy goes ______. When she does something I like, I thank her describing what she did that was good. You ate all your cereal, thats good. As of two days ago, she started sleeping more, which is amazing. I believe in attachment parenting, so I never let her cry herself to sleep. No matter how exhausted I am. As for destressing, Ive been having playdates more often with other moms. I guess I feel horrible because Im so exhausted and get frustrated when I shouldnt.

Laura - posted on 02/22/2011

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Nellie, it seems that the real issue here isn't the words that you are using but your daughter's sleeping habits (or lack thereof!). Sure, you sounded off in frustration--what parent hasn't--but it's the reason why you voiced frustration that is the problem! As mentioned already, "good" and "bad" should refer to choices/behaviors and your 8 month old isn't old enough (developmentally) to even make choices. She is merely reacting to her environment in an instinctual way. And that includes her sleeping habits.

If you really want to create a situation where you don't become frustrated to the point of using "good" or "bad" towards your daughter, then work on correcting her sleeping behavior first. There are several different methods to use and you can either look for books from your library or bookstore or search for info on the internet. If you work on correcting the sleep problem your frustration with your daughter will deminish and you won't have a reason to use "good" or "bad" in your vocabulary. At least not "bad"--praising kids for "good" choices and behaviors is always a good thing to communicate! Hope this helps and good luck!

Laura - posted on 02/22/2011

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My son is nearly 3, and my husband and I have never used the word 'bad'. If he does something wrong, we usually correct him by saying 'that's not nice' or 'you're not being very nice'. We usually do the same with the word 'mad'. It's usually "Mommy's not happy!' lol My biggest challenge is getting some of our family to understand this concept, that my child is never bad or I'm never mad at him :s

Cindie - posted on 02/20/2011

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You are all right about the importance of the words you use. But take it from a veteran of kid-raising: in the end it is not the words you use that will matter, but how you made them feel.

Nellie - posted on 02/19/2011

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At Kate: I believe I said that I stated it in frustration, as in I was frustrated. As to the why my daughter was extremly sick for several months which made her insanley clingy and hystarical, crying the majority of the day. She's now healthy, but I need to reteach her selthsoothing and all. Basically she screams everytime I put her down. She cries for hours and hours and hours. She never naps in the day for mor then 10 minutes. At night she never sleeps longer then an hour at a time. She screams at least 3 hours per night in a row. And I have next to no support. So yes, I'm 110% exhausted and I say things I shouldnt. Thats why I posted this thread, because I realised some of the things I was saying may not be best.

Ashley - posted on 02/19/2011

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I'm with Jennifer. Its always good and bad choices. I am totally against telling a child they are bad. That is so negetive to drill that into their head that they are bad. If you tell them they are bad, they are going to be bad. With your daughter being 8 months old, she doesn't necissarily know what being good and bad is at this point. My daughter just turned 1, and we tell her good girl when she is listening or doing what she is supposed to be doing. And its hilarious because she goes around the house now saying good girl all the time when she is being nice to the animals or something. She really responds to it though. You will find something that works for her, nut it sounds like you are on the right track and know what you are doing. You are going to get frusterated at times, and things will slip, but you are aware of it and try not to do it, so I think you are doing what you can. But just keep using things to praise her when she listens and when she is being good :)

Medic - posted on 02/19/2011

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With my son who is four we stress good and bad CHOICES and we always talk to him about how he is a great boy and we love him no matter what but some choices are bad ones and some are good ones. With our daughter who is one we try and refrain from using good and bad because she is just too young.

Nikki - posted on 02/19/2011

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Nellie a good thing to remember is with a baby at that age their behaviour is simply a reaction to their environment and development.

They are learning and exploring to further their development, so rather than looking at negative behaviour in a negative way look at it as a lesson for you to encourage positive behaviour.

Most of the time at that age the behaviour will continue until they grow out of that phase of development which is why it is so important for your own sanity to ensure your babies environment is developmentally appropriate and safe for her to actively explore without too many restrictions.

Kate CP - posted on 02/19/2011

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I agree with the other ladies. My daughter can make good or bad choices but that doesn't mean she's good or bad.

I also have to wonder what an 8 month old is doing that gains the response of "Why can't you be good?" She's still an infant and learning about the world. She doesn't understand the concept of good and bad behavior. She's still learning about cause and effect.

Nellie - posted on 02/19/2011

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Thank you for your replies.I suppose it's harder for me to pratise what I believe in such as not saying "stop being bad" as that's the type of thing I heard constantly growing up.I will try to label the behaviour as in please be patient, please be a good listner, etc, but I think that my daughter is to young to use the word "bad" even in context of "you hit someone, that's a bad behaviour". I think when she's older, around 7 or 8, I'll start using that word with the context of te behaviour and enforcing that it's not her that's bad, just the behaviour. Either way, it doesn't come naturally to me, so it's something I needto work on.

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Actions can be classified as good or bad, but the PERSON is not the same as their actions.

Iridescent - posted on 02/19/2011

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I refuse to tell any of my kids (or patients, or clients, or anyone else) that they are "good" or "bad". It was ingrained years ago, so this helps a lot! Behavior can be good or bad; a person cannot, they simply exist. I will state, "Thank you for ____! That was very good of you to do!" or "You're acting naughty, and it needs to stop." Even when I'm clear that I am talking about the behavior, my kids do take it to heart, and if they're upset I make sure to let them know I don't think THEY are bad or naughty, just their behavior, and I know they are capable of better.

JuLeah - posted on 02/19/2011

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I think what you are going for here is the seperation of person from personality ... seperation of action from child. They child might someday Do something that is very bad, but she won't Be bad.

I agree with you too about the 'be good' statement. What does that mean? Kids sure don't know. They are told, "Be good" and left to guess .... I tell my kid I need her to be a good listerner, or a good helper when it is time to pick up ... I try to be more exact ... once was had charge of two small kids (friends kids) and the older one, while at the store was challenging, ... asking for everything, yelling at her brother, running off .... I said, "Your mom told you to be good"

She looked confused and said, "I was." I held brother's hand the whole time we were in the parking lot."

And, yup, when I later asked mom, her reaction was to say "Good girl" each time the child held her brothers hand like that ... so "Be good" came to mean "hold brothers hand" She had no idea it might mean other things too.

Kimberly - posted on 02/19/2011

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I never use negatives with my daughter. She's 17 months now and when she does something I don't want her to do I say, "no thank you" and redirect her to something appropriate. When she does good things I say "well done" or "good girl" and we say lots and lots of thank yous for good behaviour.

Don't bet yourself up over saying "bad". She's only 8 months old, but just remember that she's going to start understanding what you're saying very soon, so starting with positive praise now will help as she'll get used to the words and understand the good behaviour you want from her.

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