The Blue Monkey Test

Imagine a blue monkey
Now, Imagine a red elephant.
Now, DON’T imagine a blue monkey

Did you think of the monkey again?

Tut tut

It’s odd the bits of advice that stick in your mind. Long before we had Evelyn I heard someone on TV (and I’m afraid I can’t remember who it was in order to credit it) use the little trick above to illustrate their ideas on how you should talk to toddlers. Their point being that telling a small child not to do something will only plant the idea in their mind and make them more likely to do it, even if they are not making a conscious decision to be naughty. So for example it’s better to say “keep the drink in the cup” than “don’t spill the drink on the floor”.

This has come to mind again recently now that Evelyn has well and truly moved from baby to toddler. In the past any unwelcome behaviour was just a matter of crying for want of some basic need or because the world is strange and scary and full of things you’d like to eat but shouldn’t, really don’t want to eat but should or that just plain hurt when you bump into them. So, frustrating, annoying and headache inducing though it could be, I really couldn’t feel angry at her, and in my more sympathetic moments, felt rather sorry for her.

It’s a little tougher to be sympathetic when you’ve picked up all the crayons twice already, told her to keep them on the table and then realise that she is holding them out and just waiting to catch your eye before hurling them to the ground again. To be fair this kind of thing happens rarely and I know that it is an inevitable part of her growing into an individual and testing the boundaries of this new found sense of self, but it does mean that I’m now starting to think about the best way to deal with it and this leads us back to advice.

The problem is there is so much of it out there now, much of it contradicting what others say is the incontrovertible truth. The Gina Ford is God/Satan debate has been very well trodden for babies and I suspect there are equally devoted tribes of thought when it comes to toddler parenting. A lot of people seem to have very very strong feelings about which tribe is best and to be honest I tend to find myself somewhere in the middle most of the time. So I’ve not yet reached for any toddler books (not saying I won’t – I just haven’t had to yet!).

That said I was very pleased to stumble upon this website recently. It collates scientific evidence from anthropology, psychology, neurology etc. into articles that hopefully give a more evidence based approach to parenting advice than what is offered by the the personal experiences and philosophies of some of the parenting gurus. It also just so happens to agree with a lot of what I thought already, which, I suspect is how most parenting tribes recruit their new devotees anyway. Oh and it has references and everything, just like proper science!

Hmm, there is attachment parenting, routine driven parenting, I wonder if there is a Geek parenting tribe I can join?


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