I have a little trick I use to make Violet do what I want that simultaneously allows her to feel in control of the situation.
She thinks she’s doing what she wants but really it’s me pulling all the strings. If you’ve been a parent to a toddler for more than a few months then you probably naturally started using this option out of necessity.
But, on the off chance that you’ve never employed this tactic I figured I’d share it here so you can give it a go the next time your toddler is being a jerk, which, should be in just a few minutes now.
Offer choices. Yep. That’s it. For example, if you want your kid to put his pajamas on don’t say “Tommy, can we put on your pajamas now?” Don’t even say “Tommy, let’s go put on your pajamas now” because, as we all know, that ultimately leads to “TOMMY. FOR THE TENTH TIME, MARCH YOUR ASS RIGHT UP THOSE STAIRS AND PUT ON YOUR PAJAMAS!”
Instead: “Tommy, it’s time to put on your pajamas. Do you wanna put on your airplane pajamas or the Toy Story ones?!”
When presented in the form of an exciting Thing To Do instead of an order from mom Tommy will hopefully get excited about the task at hand, spend a couple seconds debating which pajamas and then put them on.
I do this at least a dozen times a day with my 3-year-old daughter and it works 99% of the time. Beware, though. Don’t make it a choice between something they want and something you want. Don’t say, “Do you want cookies for lunch or a sandwich?” Instead make the choice between two of your options. “Do you want a bologna sandwhich or peanut butter and jelly”?
See how that works?
Marie LeBaron from Make and Takes offers some great examples of giving your kids choices without letting them choose:
- You need to eat your broccoli as it’s good food for your body. But are you going to eat it like a monster or a puppy dog?
- You can play with the toy cars, but you only get to choose one so everyone can share. Which car are you going to pick, the red one or the blue one?
- You need to wash your hands so we can wash away the dirt. Do you want to wash them while we sing the ABC song or while we make silly faces in the mirror?
- You can have chips, but not the whole bag as it’s almost dinner time. Do you want to have 4 chips or 5 chips?
- You can play video games, but you have your chores to do first as we need to all help keep our house picked up. Are you going to take out the trash or make your bed first?
Lebaron suggests always starting off the choices by telling the kids first what they need to do, then offering the choices. You need to go to bed, would you like to put on your pajamas first or brush your teeth? Lebaron says that way “Kids will feel as if they’ve been given some of the responsibility, helping them take ownership. They’re then learning to problem-solve and make decisions, a life long skill. “You are going to do ___ because of ___, but you can either do it this way or that way”.
What do you think? Is this something that would work on your toddler? Have you tried it? What were the results? Do you have any special techniques for getting your little ones to follow instructions?
Photo Credit: oureducation.com
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