Friday, September 4, 2009

Defiant Little Devil

Bug is quite your typical toddler. That means that he never listens to me and he is almost always disobedient. Sometimes, I wonder if he even really understands me. But then he is naughty after I KNOW he understood me, and I realize that he is being disobedient on purpose.

The other day, we went to our friendly, neighborhood grocery store as a family. After we got all of our groceries down the checkout belt, the hubby (who had been holding Bug) passed Bug off to me so he could pay. I put Bug back into the seat of our cart, squirming and fighting. I told him that it was ok, and that we were going to go home. Then, I told him to give me a kiss. And, as I leaned down with my lips puckered, Bug slapped my face. I sharply told him, "NO!" and that what he did wasn't nice. I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a young lady laughing at the exchange. It actually made me really mad to see someone laughing at my uncontrollable toddler. I guess I could look back at that situation and laugh. But, part of me looks back at that situation and wonders, how the heck do I get Bug to be nice and kind and obedient!?!

Elizabeth Pantley, (author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and other books) has some fantastic ideas for how to get toddlers to be a little more obedient in her book, Kid Cooperation. This excerpt, called Get Your Toddler to Co-Operate! is from her book Kid Cooperation:
Toddlers and preschoolers require finesse to gain their
cooperation, because they have not yet reached the age at
which they can see and understand the whole picture, so simply
explaining what you want doesn’t always work. Robert Scotellaro is
quoted in The Funny Side of Parenthood as saying, “Reasoning with
a two-year-old is about as productive as changing seats on the
Titanic.” (He must have had a two-year-old at the time.)

You can get around this frustrating state of affairs by changing your
approach. Let’s look at two situations – first the typical (Titanic)

Parent: David! Time to change your diaper.
David:No! (As he runs off)
Parent: Come on honey. It’s time to leave, I need to change you.
David: (Giggles and hides behind sofa)
Parent: David, this isn’t funny. It’s getting late. Come here.
David: (Doesn’t hear a word. Sits down to do a puzzle.)
Parent: Come here! (Gets up and approaches David)
David: (Giggles and runs)
Parent: (Picking up David) Now lie here. Stop squirming! Lie still.
Will you stop this!
(As parent turns to pick up a new diaper, a little bare bottom is
running away)

I’m sure you’ve all been there. Oh, and by the way, David is my son.
And this was an actual scene recorded in his baby book. Like you, I
got very tired of this. Then I discovered a better way:

Parent:(Picking up diaper and holding it like a puppet, making it
talk in a silly, squeaky voice)
Hi David! I’m Dilly Diaper! Come here and play with me!
David:(Running over to Diaper) Hi Dilly!
Parent as Diaper: You’re a nice boy. Will you give me a kiss?
David:Y es. (Gives diaper a kiss)
Parent as Diaper: How ‘bout a nice hug?
David: (Giggles and hugs Diaper)
Parent as Diaper: Lie right here next to me. Right here. Yup. Can I
go on you? Oh yes?!
Goody goody goody! (The diaper chats with David while he’s being
changed. Then it says, Oh, David! Listen, I hear your shoes calling
you – David! David!

The most amazing thing about this trick is that it works over and
over and over and over. You’ll keep thinking, “He’s not honestly
going to fall for this again?” But he will! Probably the nicest byproduct
of this method is that it gets you in a good mood and you
have a little fun time with your child.

When you’ve got a toddler this technique is a pure lifesaver.
When my son David was little I used this all the time. (I then used
it with my youngest child, Coleton, and it worked just as well.)
Remembering back to one day, when David was almost three, we
were waiting in a long line at the grocery store and I was making
my hand talk to him. It was asking him questions about the items
in the cart. Suddenly, he hugged my hand, looked up at me and
said, “Mommy, I love for you to pretend this hand is talking.”
Another parent reported that she called her toddler to the table for
dinner a number of times, when he calmly looked up at her, chubby
hands on padded hips and said, “Mommy, why don’t you have my
dinner call to me?”

And suddenly, the peas on his plate came to life and called out to
him; he ran over to join the family at the dinner table.

A variation on this technique, that also works very well, is to
capitalize on a young child’s vivid imagination as a way to thwart
negative emotions. Pretend to find a trail of caterpillars on the way
to the store, hop to the car like a bunny, or pretend a carrot gives
you magic powers as you eat it.

It’s delightful to see how a potentially negative situation can be
turned into a fun experience by changing a child’s focus to fun and
And it is so true...when I make things fun for Bug, he is so much more willing to cooperate with me. It becomes a game, and what toddler doesn't love to play a game with mommy?? (By the way, I think that Titanic diaper scenario should be renamed the "Mommy tries to change Bug's diaper" scenario!) Perhaps, as I learn to employ more entertaining ways of teaching Bug, he will be more willing to give me kisses in the grocery store!


Goldibug said...

These are fantastic ideas! Thanks for sharing them! Now I need to buy myself that book!

Pamla Barrett said...

Ok I LOVE this post! Chad listens to a radio show with this guy that talks about "Scream Free Parenting" and it's awesome some of the ideas that come from him, too! Like teaching your kids silent protesting. (hehehe) More on that if you want later. I'm definately going to try this on Kyla. And Chase too. Another good idea I've taken from the guy is instead of demanding them to do what you want, give them the freedom to choose. The one I gave Kyla the other day is we don't say "hate" anymore. If you say "hate" you have to sit on your bed for 10 mins by yourself. No spanking, just a consequence. Happened twice, haven't heard her use it since!!!! :)

Future Mama said...

Wow!! Great ideas! I worked in daycare for years and I may have tried something similar from time to time but I've forgotten about it.

Though sometimes with Snoop I do similar things to get him to listen to me.

Thanks for sharing these tips! I'll have to store it for when I get my little one here!