Toddlers like to have the reins as often as possible. Their growing independence and ‘can do attitude’ is exciting to watch and often leaves adults pleasantly surprised and puffed with pride.
Sometimes however, the little ninjas seem to have one over on us and before we know it, they have run away with the entire horse and carriage leaving us wondering at what stage we should have taken the reins off them (and how on earth we are going to get them back now).
I meet many toddlers and children who are large and in charge. I usually meet them once the fun is wearing off though and they are getting overwhelmed and stressed with being the boss all the time.
If you think this may be happening in your house, here are three ways to get back in control.
1. Ask OR questions.
This magical technique gives toddlers a portion of control, but we are still the leader.
When asking: “Would you like to wear your blue or your red shoes?” The shoes are not the option.
We choose shoes. They choose the exact pair. Magic.
So, phrase as many this as OR questions as you can. Would you like to walk or run? Would you like peas or carrots? Would you like to sit on the left or right side of the car? Would you like to go to bed now or in five minutes?
Just make sure both options are an outcome you want and watch your toddler glow.
2. Outline expectations and consequences.
I’m about to share with you one of my favourite and most effective sentences. Use it often.
“If you do this __________ :) I will do this _______ :)
But if you do that ________:( I will do that _______ :(
This gives you toddler the option to choose the outcome. They are making informed choices before they behave and know the consequences in advance.
3. The most important part of this technique is FOLLOWING THROUGH on what you say.
If you say: “If you put on your shoes, we can stay at the park. But if you don’t put on your shoes, we will have to go home”.
Then if your toddler refuses to put their shoes on, you MUST LEAVE. If you don’t, he’s learning that you don’t mean what you say so he is free to ignore you.
If you don’t want to go home. Great! Don’t threaten it. Say something like, “You’ll need to sit in your stroller” instead.