First, another book recommendation. I love, love, love How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk.
Common sense parenting with tons of great real-life examples. If you only ever read one of the books I’ve recommended, make it this one. It’s a great choice for implementing right away with children ages 4+, but also a great read for parents of younger children to set the stage and start formulating your discipline plan and vocabulary. Trust me when I tell you, it’s a good thing to have a head start on this stuff because it sneaks up fast!
Two of my favorite (and well used!) techniques from this book involve dealing with the “I wanna’s!!” You know, the oppositional whiney demands of your child that just happen to be the exact opposite of your plan or what’s available. And if I was a person who thought kids could be anything but sparkling angels, I might even refer to it as: the spoiled brat syndrome. Or so I hear…because we’ve only got sparkling angels in this house. All of the time. Yeah.
Technique #1: The magic wand.
Problem: Its later than our normal dinner time. Kids are tired, hungry, cranky and thus, argumentative just for fun. We’re grabbing a quick dinner at a restaurant. “Hey bud, do you want grilled cheese or chicken for dinner?” “I want mac and cheese.” “Well, that’s not one of the options – grilled cheese or chicken? You love grilled cheese, how about that?” “I only want mac and cheese!”
Solution: Breathe. Unclench jaw. Pull out the ‘magic wand’. “If I had a magic wand I would wave it over this table and make a bowl of mac and cheese magically appear!” “You don’t have a magic wand” “You’re right, but if I did…no, no wait! I would make the hugest bowl of mac and cheese in the whole world appear right here!! It would be so big it might not even fit on the table!!” “Or maybe it wouldn’t fit in the restaurant!” “Yeah!” “Yeah!” “That was fun to think about! So what do you think? Chicken or grilled cheese?” “Grilled cheese please” “You got it.”
Technique #2: The note.
Problem: Its bath time but he’s not in the mood for a bath. He wants to play toys. Its getting late, I’m getting tired and I just want to get him in the bath and get to bed already. “Sprout, its bath time, please put down your toys.” “I don’t wanna take a bath! I wanna play toys!” “Well, there are toys in the bath so you can do both at once.” “I want to play with these [not water safe] toys!”
Solution: Breathe again. And whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the back and forth. The minute you start arguing, you have lost. Go get a pen and paper. “Can you say that again buddy? I want to make sure I have it right for the note.” ::Sprout looks quizzically at the paper:: “I said I wanted to play with Buzz Lightyear and Jessie” ::I write it on the paper:: “Tell me more about what you wanted to do. Where did you want to play? For how long?” “I wanted to play rescue Woody in the living room. For 10 minutes.” “Alright! I’ve got it all written down right here. We’ll keep this note in a special place so we remember. I’m gonna sign it. Do you want to sign it too?” “Okay” And just like that we are back on the same team, his wishes are heard and recognized, and he hops in the tub.
Because at the end of the day, children understand that they aren’t always going to get their way. They just want to be heard and respected.
Seriously, grab the book. It’s a good one!