Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Easiest Way to Get Cooperation From a Toddler

If you have a toddler you know that those little people go from a squishy newborn to a roly poly baby to a nay saying toddler in the space of hiccup. That once-portable non-opinionated being morphs into a walking, talking contradiction.

Basically, the more you want them to do something the more they will fight against you. Need to put the toddler in the car seat? Stiff board is a nearly unconquerable obstacle no matter what you try once the battle escalates to this point. Want your child to ride in the grocery cart? You will start to wonder how many legs they actually have.

The most successful strategy for getting cooperation from my kids as toddlers has two parts.

First, tell them the expectation before you get to the car or the cart. "D is going to ride in the cart in the store today!" It's important that you phrase this as a statement and with an excited and happy tone of voice.

The second step requires you to make a fool of yourself. Sing a song, make up a chant, make silly faces, whatever...while you are putting the child in the car seat or cart or whatever. Distraction from the act of "making" the child do what you want him/her to do is key.

It doesn't work always. Sometimes I'm too rushed or forgetful to remember to prepare my toddler beforehand. Sometimes I just don't want to sing.

But if I do the steps and sing the goofy song? Works like a charm.


Stelie Designs said...

Ahhh!!! Thanks for reminding me what is to come again. I laughed because it has happened to me, stiff as a board! Legs going crazy!

I do the same thing, set up expectations & am silly. It works with infants as a changing diaper, getting dressed distraction too. Silly song part that is.

KRS said...

I also find the more control you give them over other areas of their lives, the more likely they are to do what you want when you want it and accept the phrase "it's not a choice" (like holding your hand in the parking lot.)


Do you want the blue or the green plate?

Do you want Sofie the Giraffe or your stuffed octopus to play with in the car?

Do you want to brush your teeth or take a bath first?

I have done this with MANY toddlers as a nanny over the years and am doing it with my 8 month old already. I actually started when she was very young with her diapers... the one she looked at was the one I assumed was her choice. Now that she's older, she'll grab the one she wants.

You will still have tantrums from time to time but the frequency and intensity are greatly diminished and they learn their choices have consequences (if they choose the blue plate, someone else will get the green plate) very early on.