4 Negotiation Strategies To Use With Your Toddler

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I know you thought having a newborn was tough, what with the sleep deprivation and all, but as soon as that baby starts walking and then talking, you’re going to find out who the real boss is. Need some tips for surviving this tiny terror? You came to the right place.

1. Break down the negotiation into parts. You may have gone into this parenting thing thinking you’re in control because you have age, size, wisdom, and money. Well, you’re wrong. A toddler doesn’t respond to reason , a toddler responds to bribes. Instead of trying to get him to eat his entire dinner – which you lovingly crafted from organic ingredients and separated into neat sections onto a Dr. Seuss plate, and none of which he is willing to touch because he wants nothing else for dinner besides plain ice cream cones – try it a section at a time. If he finishes his avocado he gets a gummy vitamin. If he tries a bean you’ll let him eat that ice cream cone for dessert, and if he eats all of his beans you’ll both go out for ice cream because frankly you deserve something too for allowing this dinner to last two hours. By separating your negotiation into manageable pieces, it’ll feel more like winning a series of successful battles and less like you’re losing a war.

2. Ask questions instead of just making demands. Your toddler is used to having demands barked at him all day long. Don’t do this, pick that up, get your finger out of your nose, stop tugging at your penis in public, please for the love of everything holy don’t reach into that dirty diaper, etc. When you want things to go your way and you feel like you’re in a position of power, it’s easy to forget that when someone doesn’t want to do or concede something, there’s a motivation behind it. Try to find out if there’s a (logical) reason and address it. When your toddler gives you NO after NO in response to your demands, question him. WHY are you wiping boogers on your socks? WHY did you push the full, neatly sorted laundry basket down the stairs? You may not get real answers, but at least it’s fun to turn the tables and ask him “Why?” every now and again.

3. Let’s say you want your toddler to put away his toys. It’s silly to just ask him to do that, don’t you think? Yet you probably do it all the time, and it becomes a cycle of him saying no, removing his clothing for some reason, and running away from you while giggling, leaving you to clean up. Then there are the tears and whining, but embarrassingly they’re not coming from your toddler. Next time approach this situation like you’re a used car salesman. You know you’re not going to get the sticker price in the end, but you have to start high in order to end up where you want. You’d like the toys to be put away? Ask your toddler to wipe off the dinner table, hand you the dishes from the dishwasher, put away his toys, and scrub the bathtub. Chances are you’ll get him to do one or even two of the things on your list because if he’s anything like his mother he will do absolutely anything to avoid having to scrub the bathtub.

4. Make concessions. Negotiating, by definition, usually means there’s something for both parties to gain. Otherwise, you’re just playing the role of the pesky dictator again. If you want your puny prince to do something that he doesn’t want to do, find a way to make him want to do it (or something close to it). Take for example potty training: why would your toddler want to give up the cushy convenience of his diaper for toilet breaks, during which a parent stares at him and asks invasive questions about his bowel movements? (He should only get to do that to you.) Find something that would give him incentive, and cut him the occasional break. He can’t pee in the baby pool, but he can go pee by that bush. It would practically be hypocritical to not let him do what his dad probably does anyway. Tell him if he does a poo poo on the potty you’ll give him one marshmallow. Eventually you’ll agree to two marshmallows and five M&Ms because you have lost valuable ground by negotiating against yourself while he holds his position. Try not to do that next time.

You may think it’s overkill to approach interactions with your pint-sized boss troublemaker with strategies used in lucrative contract negotiations. But the next time you realize you’ve been trying for hours to get him to nap and dinner is already on the table, you may need to pursue a more structured strategy. Otherwise, you’ll probably notice that without even trying, your toddler has been winning. After all, he is quite the deft negotiator.

Related post: 25 Ways You Know You’re a Parent to a Toddler

20 Reasons My Two Year Old Had a Hard Day

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two-year-old-pouting Image via Shutterstock

My two year old said, with a mischievous look in his eye, “Mommy. I had a hard day.”

I turned to his older brother and said, “Did he just say what I think he did?” He shrugged. Five year old brothers tend to not care what two year old brothers are saying.

So, I asked, “Did you just say you’ve had a hard day!?” He smiled, his coy little smile and replied, “Yeah” as he continued to twirl in circles for some unknown reason that was making me slightly queasy just watching him.

I didn’t know whether to be horrified that he’s obviously heard this sentence one too many times, laugh at his cuteness in saying something so grown up, or be worried that I’m coddling him too much and therefore, he already thinks his life is rough. At the ripe old age of two years old.

Instead, I gave it a little thought, because having three kids makes me pensive when it’s not making me yell-y, and thought to myself, “Hmm. Maybe life was hard for this kid today.”

After all, I could think of several reasons that, in his mind, life was extra tough that day:

1. He had to get out of bed at 9 am after sleeping for a short 14 hours straight.

2. I wouldn’t let him eat potato chips for breakfast.

3. I dared to tell him his pacifier was just for bed time and took it away so he could eat a real breakfast which he changed his mind about ten times. Nothing must have sounded good to him since the potato chips were off limits.

4. I dressed him, so of course that always makes my day a little tougher.

5. He was forced to drink out of the yellow cup at lunch instead of the blue one.

6. I wouldn’t let him squirt his brother in the eye with a water bottle.

7. I wouldn’t let him jump on the picnic table in the backyard.

8. I wouldn’t let him wrap the cord to the blinds around his neck.

9. I wouldn’t let him play with a knife.

10. Basically, I prevented him from his various attempts at taking his own life.

11. I changed his diaper when he was stinky.

12. I made him wear shoes to go play outside when it was a whopping, scald-your-bare-feet-on-the-pavement, degrees outside.

13. I buckled him into his car seat.

14. I mistakenly put his blanket on him the wrong way at nap time.

15. I didn’t hold him for 25 minutes after his nap giving him time to wake up and be happy again. After all, he only napped for two hours after his short 14 hours of sleep the night before.

16. I made him eat pasta for dinner that had tiny flecks of something green in it, therefore making it so obviously inedible.

17. I told him hitting his brother in the head with whatever object was in his hand at the time was not OK. (Repeat 10 times)

18. I held his hand while going down some stairs.

19. I attempted to actually brush his teeth instead of letting him suck on the toothbrush for 10 minutes.

20. I told him to be quiet and go to sleep.

After looking back, I realized that life was so very hard for him that day. Hopefully I can live up to his expectations tomorrow. But, I seriously have my doubts.

Related post: 5 Perfectly Understandable Reasons For Toddler Tantrums

Dear Toddler, Screw Your Tantrums

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Dear Toddler,

I woke up this morning with every intention of having a great day. Outside the window, playful little birds bounced through the trees. Mother Nature gleefully peeked her yellow face from behind the clouds. The new coffee I purchased tasted like paradise in a cup. I was so in love, I tried finding the number for the grower in Antigua so I could properly thank him. A day like this … how could anything go wrong?

And then you woke up.

Immediately dissatisfied that a dancing cat graced the television screen instead of a goofy sponge, your lips quivered and your eyes swelled. A tsunami of noise poured from your pie hole. I’m pretty sure the neighbor’s alarm system kicked in when that first temper tantrum of the day erupted.

But it didn’t end there. Your screaming quickly escalated to frantic pacing and pointing of rigid fingers, “MAMA! NO! MAMA! NO! NO, CAT!” You reminded me so much of a crazed zombie, I considered giving AMC a shout. Suddenly your legs stiffened. A one-man army was now marching through the living room. In an alternative universe, this might be considered great entertainment! Here … you ruined my Folgers’ moment, kid.

As any mother knows, when the day starts with a temper tantrum it usually goes south from there. And it did. You had no intention of being a well-behaved toddler. You know … like those seen peppered throughout Facebook … those perfectly poised kids sitting on bales of hay and chilling in old iron washtubs? Oh no. You had other plans. You’d make me earn the title “World’s Most Psychotic Mother.”

For a moment, peace returned. You transformed into a perfect Disney Princess when the words “Whooooo lives in a pineapple … ” finally blasted from the soap box. “Soap box?” you ask. You’re too young to understand this reference. It was used in a time when kids didn’t dare strike angry militia poses or complain about ANYTHING. We woke up happy to have the AM radio blasting Elvis tunes and walked complaint-free through miles of heavy snow … off to one-room schoolhouses where every teacher was packing a ruler. How hard things have become.

When lunch time rolled around, against my better judgment, I allowed you to saunter through the pantry. Surely there was something in there that would strike your fancy. RIGHT?!? Wrong. Among the one hundred and one cans of chicken noodle soup, endless boxes of macaroni and cheese, and enough peanut butter to feed the occupants of a Carnival cruise liner, there was no Beefaroni. No flipping Beefaroni! This meant the end of the world.

Before I could call Chef Boyardee and tell him to shove it, you were on the floor doing your best possessed snow angel impersonation. The ear-piercing screams nearly cracked the windows. Even the dog ran for cover. Whatever was flailing like a wounded flounder in the middle of the kitchen floor couldn’t possibly be human. But it was. It was you dear toddler. A little being who couldn’t quite count to five, yet somehow knew the difference between broth and sauce.

There was no consoling you. You battled through bites of grilled cheese. Slapped my hand when I tried to feed you tomato soup. In the end, I resembled a walking contemporary painting. Some might call you artistic—a free soul with a strong spirit. I had other words in mind.

The clock ticked and the cuckoo bird reminded me that nap time was only minutes away. Most days you were so tired by mid-afternoon, you’d practically fall asleep standing up. Today … today you’d prove that sleep was for sissies. Your little body had every inclination of going and going and going … like a loud electronic toy that seemed to operate in lieu of batteries; the ones that belt out obnoxious kiddie tunes at midnight and make animals sound like they’re dying. (A cow does not say “mauuuuuuu.”)

Two hours and no nap later, things went from “Well this effing sucks” to “Where’s the wine?”

You were no longer a screeching, mad zombie. Or a flailing fish. You, dearest toddler, had turned into an a-hole. After pitching the fifth hard, plastic toy in my direction and abruptly firing “NO!” for the millionth time, THAT. WAS. IT. It was nap time or else … I was about ready to pack my bandana on a stick and head for the nearest exit.

You fell asleep like an exorcism was being performed. I won’t lie. Some little part of me wanted to cave in, to pick you up and soothe you. My mommy heart desperately wanted to rock you in my arms until you drifted off to sleep. That was until your foot made its way to my jaw, Jet Li style.

Oh, hell, no. Enjoy your nap, dear toddler.

You woke just in time for daddy to return home from work. The sight of a red lollipop in his hand instead of a green one … well let’s just say, another tsunami hit that day.

Dear toddler, screw your tantrums. Daddy’s home and this momma’s taking a shower.

Related post: 25 Ways To Annoy A Toddler

The Rules of Toddler Club

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toddler-in-bath-tub

It’s a Toddler Club folks, and we are not invited.

1st rule of  Toddler Club – You do not talk about toddler club.

2nd rule of Toddler Club – You do not talk about toddler club.

3rd rule of Toddler Club – Protest getting into the bath. Once in, protest getting out.

4th rule of  Toddler Club – If asked a question, the answer is no. Always no. The only exception is when the question is: “Do you want a treat?”

5th rule of Toddler ClubNever go to bed. Ask a question. Ask ten questions. Request water. You have to go potty. You need a tissue. You need a story. You need a new pillow. New Pajamas. A back-rub. Just Never. Go. To. Bed.

6th rule of Toddler Club – If younger brother or sister is crying, cry louder to ensure total panic in household.

7th rule of Toddler Club – If pasta is served, ask for pizza. If pizza wish is granted, ask for pasta.

8th rule of Toddler Club – Never, under any circumstances, put any article of clothing on when asked only once.

9th rule of Toddler Club – Dinner is breakfast. Breakfast is dinner. Do not be fooled.

10th rule of Toddler Club – If mommy says no, try daddy. If daddy says no, tell mommy he said yes.

11th rule of Toddler Club – Do not attempt to get all of your food in your mouth. Your clothes are hungry too.

12th rule of Toddler ClubDon’t trust anything with a crust. Rinds are not our friends.

In each other we trust,

Toddler Management

Related post: 10 Ways Pregnancy is Like Toddlerhood

23 Rules of Eating, According to a Toddler

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toddler-baby-eating

1. Refuse anything but Cheerios for breakfast. Have them without milk on Mondays, Thursdays and every other Friday.

2. Hyperventilate if they get this wrong.

3. Don’t try anything new, EVER.

4. Just because you liked something yesterday does not mean you have to like it again today. It is perfectly acceptable to change your mind and you do not have to explain yourself.

5. Be suspicious of anything that was recently alive. Orange, dead-looking stuff is safer.

6. Request a wide variety of food at the supermarket and then A. Deny all knowledge of it upon your return home or B. Allow it to be cooked first and then say you don’t like it.

7. Spend some time revising brand names so that you can legitimately refuse cheaper derivatives.

8. Any amount of cooking or food preparation time above 30 seconds is wholly unacceptable.

9. Ask for updates of when things will be ready every 10 seconds. Protest with your fists on the floor if things are taking too long.

10. This may result in the meal being served half frozen but it doesn’t matter as you are not going to eat it anyway.

11. No eating on Wednesday afternoons, just because.

12. Make sure you have a spoon, knife and two forks with all meals and then eat with your hands.

13. Only ever use one specific plate. Flip out if it is dirty.

14. Deposit as much of your meal off the side of the table as possible. They say they “spend their whole life cleaning the kitchen floor.” Help make it a reality.

15. Sweet potato chips are insulting.

16. Avoid anything with sauce as there is a risk it contains blended vegetables.

17. Never drink water. They say “You will drink it when you’re thirsty.” Don’t. Get admitted to hospital with dehydration. That’ll teach ‘em.

18. Always say you are hungry when you are in the bath.

19. Train your body clock to wake up for midnight bananas.

20. Casseroles, stews and pies are not to be trusted.

21. Sweet potato chips are insulting.

22. Kick people who describe broccoli as “little trees” in the shins. It’s condescending and its disgusting.

23. Avocado – WTF? – NO.

Related post: Bedtime Stalling 101