The 10 Stages of Trying to Convince a Threenager to Do Something

Image Source: Heather Neal
Image Source: Heather Neal

Kids are funny little things.

Let them do something they want to do and life is good and simple, and they’re showering you in hugs and kisses and thanks.

Make them do something they don’t want to do, and it’s like you’ve stepped onto an active battlefield.

My 3-year-old, for the most part, is pretty easy-natured and goes with the flow. But every once in awhile he likes to remind me just how nice that is and throws down the gauntlet. Then it’s all hands on deck and I have to pull out every single one of my parenting tools – and some that probably shouldn’t be used.

Every week (or day) it’s something new, so even if you do figure out the magic trick that solves the threenage puzzle, it’s almost guaranteed not to work the next time.

This week our battle du jour was getting in the swimming pool. Now, my son loves to swim, but because I was making him go to swim class, it was a totally different ballgame. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the pool, let alone actually get in the water and stick his face in.

Each day was a battle of wills to see which one of us would last longer and finally cave in. I can’t say I’m always proud of the exact method of victory I imposed, but I am proud to say I always won … eventually.

Here are the 10 stages of convincing a threenager to do something he doesn’t want to do.

1. Tell him what to do

2. Rephrase from telling to asking oh-so-nicely

… with the most sugary sweetness you can possible conjure up.

3. Turn it back on him: “But don’t you want to?”

I don’t know why we insist on this step. Obviously they don’t, or we wouldn’t be engaging in toddler war.

4. Guilt trip

“We drove all the way here” or “we paid a lot of money for this” or “this is a special treat.”

5. Blame

“Your dad/grandma/sister/friend is going to be SO sad if you don’t. You don’t want to make them sad, do you?”

6. Bribery

Also fondly known as negotiating with terrorists in our family.

“If you ____, we can____.”

This usually involves ice cream (the real kind from the ice cream shop), a new toy, or an adventure to somewhere of his choosing.

7. Threaten

The stage that really makes us feel like our own parents.

For my son, it’s often something like “I’m going to tell your daddy” or taking away all his toys or trucks.

8. Straight up yell

… often ridiculous things you regret later, like, “You’re being ridiculous!”

(No, he’s being 3 — oops, parenting fail.)

9. Beg

“Pleeeeeeease just do it so we can get on with our lives already, prettty prettyyyyy please.”

10. Repeat

Cycle through any combination of #1. – #9. until you become victorious or pass out from frustration and exhaustion — either option is acceptable.

Just don’t let them win — you’ll never live it down.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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