I really hate to think that my kids will grow up feeling like they do not have freedom or control. I want to start a healthy open relationship with them during the early years, so that I am better practiced in the teenage years. I hope to raise kids that know Mom understands them and respects their desires. It is a really fine line to walk…raising toddlers that feel in control of their lives but also know they have to respect and listen to their parents. So, here are some tips to help you get your way without your child REALIZING you are getting your way.
- If you are not wanting the fight AT ALL then don’t let them think there is anything to fight. It is not a BATH…it is a BLATH…(Get in the bath tub backwards and tell silly stories. Something as simple as this keeps their mind away from “fight mode”). It is not hair gel it is GHOST POWER (“Can I put this special Ghost Power in your hair? That way none of the bad guys can see you, and you can sneak up and get them all!) It is not “Eat another bite!” It is “Let’s lick up our peas like a puppy dog with our tongue!” It is not, “Time to go home. Say goodbye to your friends!” It is “Let’s do an obstacle course all the way to the car. I’ll put a timer on my phone, and we can see how fast we do it!” The key is to do the FUN way the very first time. If you start with the reality of what they have to do, they will already be crying and throwing a fit by the time you get to the fun way. You will be in survival mode and just trying calm them down, and you will both be a lot more frustrated. I remember growing up I HATED it when my mom would wake me up on Saturday mornings by saying, “Get up Tess! We have A LOT of work to do!” It made my whole spirit feel grumpy. However, when she woke me up with a back rub, and we talked about getting some ice cold lemonade in our water bottles and putting music on outside to do some yard stuff together…now that was an idea I could get on board with.
- “Let’s try that again!” If you ask your toddler to do something and he or she says “No!!! I don’t want to!” you probably want to say, “It doesn’t matter, just do it!” From experience, this does not end well. Instead try, “I know. Sometimes I do not want to do things you ask me to do. So, I understand how you feel. At nights you always want me to tell you stories. Mommy is always SO tired at nights, and I don’t usually want to. I do it anyway because I love you. Why don’t you tell mommy you don’t want to do it, but you will do it anyway because you love me.” I know this sounds like some fairytale that would never work, but just try it! You will have accepted their feelings, explained you understand and feel the same, and turned it into doing something for love….not just because you are making them. This gives them the control again. They are not doing it because you said they have to, but they are doing it because they love you. Then, when they give you the desired response make a big deal! “Oh my goodness!! That makes me feel so loved! Thank you!!!!! I am so lucky to have you!”
- Stop talking so much!!! This is so backwards from everything I usually do, but I have realized it can help. This is not for every situation, but sometimes I think we make TOO big a deal about everything. “Ok, we are going to have to take a nap when we get home. I don’t want to hear any crying about it.” “I am putting veggies on your plate. You HAVE to eat them. I know you don’t like them, but they are really good for you.” “Yes, you can have a treat….but only a SMALL one. You have already had a lot of sugar today.” This is almost TOO easy for the toddlers. It is like we are begging them to fight with us. There is absolutely no need for this kind of lecture. It is a PRElecture…since you ALREADY know what your toddler is going to fight you about, you are giving them a lecture for the actions that have not even happened. This starts the fight much earlier than needed and makes it that much longer. I have only just realized how much I do this and how unnecessary it is. I thought I was helping by giving fair warning or “understanding” to him. Let’s face it, nothing about toddlers is fair or understood…so throw that logic out the window. Obviously, you know your toddler best, and sometimes it will be better for you to explain things to him or her. Just take a minute and think about your “prelecture.” Will it really help your child with a transition or just make him overly anxious for what is about to happen or what he can or cannot have? Sometimes the less information and talking…the better.
3 1/2. This only counts as half of a tip because you aren’t FULLY getting what you want in this one. Have you ever told your child they have to do something or simply can NOT have something only to realize the serious corner you have just backed yourself into? At this point you are fully confused because if you give into your toddlers desires in a full tantrum you are teaching him or her that throwing a tantrum gets them what they want. However, if you continue with your first opinion on the matter you are surely down the road of certain destruction, or some sort of permanent damage to your ear drums. What do you do? “I can see this is really important to you. Let’s talk about it.” Have your child calm down before you continue. Let them know you are willing to talk and hear their opinion on the matter. After they explain why they simply HAVE to have the sucker NOW and not wait until they get in the car like you had wanted you can say, “I really wanted you to wait until you get in the car to eat the sucker. I can see that you are really excited about this sucker. Thank you for talking to me about what you want instead of just crying. Now that I understand how important this is for you, I will let you decide when you want the sucker.” Really, sometimes us parents are so used to being scared of our children’s desires that we say no before even thinking if we have a reason. As the tantrum continues we realize it was not worth the fight. I want my kids to know that I will listen to their concerns and desires, even if I have a different opinion. Sometimes just explaining your different views on the matter will be enough for your toddler to calm down and do what you initially wanted. Other times when your child calms down and explains things to you, a compromise can be found. This is such an amazing skill for your toddler to have. Understanding and compromising with what your child wants after a calm conversation is not a parenting fail. It is a lesson in trust and communication. It will help your child feel in control and listened to by the most important person in their life. This is not something you do every time your child has a tantrum, but only when you realize your reasons for saying no are truly not important.
I hope these tips help some of you wonderful parents! Every toddler is different and every trying parent AMAZING. Do what feels right for your family.
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