I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but there’s one piece of parenting advice that changed my life. It came from an infinitely kind, Jewish woman in her 70’s named Miss Toby. She runs the playroom at our local community center. She’s a retired pre-school teacher with over 30 years of experience. That’s tens of thousands of hours spent with toddlers. Which is why she’s a Master. And I am in apprentice mode whenever I’m around her.
One time I asked her how she gets Henry to listen so well. She smiled and said, “He just wants to be in control.”
Miss Toby’s secret (and it’s so simple it feels silly to call it such) is to give two options with the same result.
“It’s time for bed. You can either walk upstairs, or I will carry you.”
“We’re leaving now. You can either walk with me, or have a shoulder ride.”
“Finish your #$@&%*! dinner. You can either eat those last two bites of warm delicious food, or I’m going to give you away to a pack of wolves because I’m losing my #$@&%*! mind.”
You get the idea.
What’s crazy is that 9 times out of 10 this simple choice ends the endless loop of arguing. And it’s not even an actual choice. You’ll be amazed something so simple can transform your toddler from stubborn tornadoes into the eager love machines they are at their core.
You can either argue with 3-foot terrorists, or trick them into surrender. It’s your choice. Not theirs.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Josh Liba