Toddlers are fiercely opinionated with an underdeveloped sense of logic. They are so very passionate, but what they’re passionate for changes from moment to moment.
Therefore, parenting a toddler requires a certain amount of strategy.
My strategy is to behave the way I want my toddler to behave. That means being kind, calm, gentle and sympathetic.
The problem with that, though, is that I am also human. And so I’m only kind, calm, gentle and sympathetic to a point. After the third tantrum and/or whining episode in any given hour, I end up giving Ryan an impromptu lesson in impatience and frustration, as well.
My husband takes a different tactic. His parenting strategy can be summed up in two words: Reverse Psychology.
It started when Ryan began refusing to go places. First, he’d refuse to leave the house for school. No amount of logical discussion about how breakfast was waiting for him there or his best friend, Jack, needed someone to play with made a difference. We wanted him to go, so he didn’t want to go.
“Fine,” Mike said. “I’m going bye-byes alone then. See ya later!”
And just like that, Mike walked out of the room.
And just like that, Ryan went running and screaming “NOOOOOOOOOO! I GO BYE-BYYYYEEEEESSSS!” after him.
And a new strategy was born.
I have to admit … it works.
In fact, it’s the most effective tool we have in our parenting arsenal at the moment. So Mike uses it for everything.
You don’t want to brush your teeth? Ok, stay here. I’m going to go brush my teeth. (“NOOOOOOO! I BRUSHIN’ TEEEEEETH!“)
You don’t want to eat your turkey sandwich? Cool, I’m hungry, I’ll eat it. (“NOOOOOO! MIIIIIIINE!“)
I have to respect the effectiveness, but I know it won’t last forever. One day, he’s going to catch on to us and we’re going to be all “Alright then, we’ll leave without you” and he’ll be all “Cool, see you later” and we’ll be all “… uh … ”
Therefore, I try to use it judiciously. I only bust it out when I’m really desperate, like when I’ve been negotiating with him for 10 minutes to get into his car seat at daycare and I’ve worked all day and I’m tired and hungry and fine, then you stay at school and Mommy will go home without you.
Mike isn’t worried, though. Once reverse psychology runs its course, he’ll simply adopt a new strategy. The top contender at the moment is the old school I’m Going To Count To Three Method.
Any other suggestions? What’s your most effective Toddler Parenting Strategy?