For those of you with toddlers you will know full well that they love to explore their place in the world and this can result in stand offs about all sorts of things from washing hands to which way their sandwich is served to going to sleep or holding hands as you cross the road. You can feel like your day is one of constant negotiation and confrontation.
Two very simple techniques you can use to diffuse these situations are below but we would also love to hear from you in the comments about any of your own techniques you use.
1) Give your toddler a choice between two options
This is a very effective way to shift the situation with your child as their focus changes and they are given the power of choice. This choice is a wonderful opportunity for your child and they will often find great enjoyment and pride in making their choice. It really meets them where they are developmentally too. For example, if you have issues with your child getting dressed you might lay out two outfits and ask them which they would like to wear today. It won't always go to plan of course so just remember you can say 'It looks like you're struggling to choose today. I can choose it for you'. Sometimes we need to just lead the way but it's a great way to start to empower your toddler and help them shift away from a stand off.
2) Make it fun
Now let’s face it, we aren’t always in the mood for this especially when our child is kicking off in public and we are at the end of our tether feeling tired and have other kids in our care. However, the fun factor can have such an immediate influence that it’s worth reminding ourselves that a small shift can really change the course of what happens next with your child. For example, they won’t go wash their hands. You could say ‘I will race you!’. However, it doesn’t always have to be over the top either. We saw a very effective example of this recently when a child didn’t want to use a wipe to clean their hands. The parent simply put her hands behind her back with the wipe in one of the hands and asked the child to pick which hand it was in. The child changed gears immediately with a big grin on their face and picked a hand. Once they got the wipe they cleaned their hands without a single moment of opposition.
It’s not always easy to find the patience and mental stamina to get it right with our kids and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to get it right every time anyway. These are just two tips that can take the heat of the head-to-head nature of confrontations that can arise with toddlers.