01:53 - Empower toddlers to choose their own food
02:20 - But limit the choices to only a few that you would like them to pick
02:47 - Make them choose how to wear their shirt
03:59 - Be firm and let them know it is important to buckle up
05:10 - Practice what you preach. Instead of saying no, use positive words
Hey, everybody. Harper Jones here with Bow-Tiger and you are watching Saturdays with Harper. And I was sitting with my girlfriend the other day and she has a younger toddler, and she was discussing something that was going on right now that was just driving her crazy and I can guarantee you, if you are the parent of a toddler or soon to be the parent of a toddler or have been the parent of a toddler, you will experience or have experienced the same situation.
Now the situation is the toddler who just says no. Everything you say, everything you try to do, everything's no, and it really takes a lot of strategy getting around the no's with your toddler in the proper way. Some people might think, you know, "I'm simply mummy. I'm simply daddy. That's the way it is. You're going to do what I say." But that's a very directing kind of almost too structured way of going about handling your child and letting them really become who they're supposed to be. How do they become who they're supposed to be if they don't have options, that they can't think for themselves?
Now a point of thinking for themselves, what is the reason these toddlers start saying no all the time? Like they were fine, maybe not so much follow directions but you kind of directed them the whole way when they were babies and now all of a sudden it's no, no, no, no to everything. Well the reason for that is because toddlers are finally starting to realize, "I can think for myself," you know, "I have a will of my own. It's not mummy doing everything for me," you know, "I am my own person."
Now this is a really, really good thing that we want to encourage but we need to make sure that we encourage it in the right way, so that the child still understands they're the child and they understand that we're the parent. Okay, so how do we do this? Well there are certain ways to handle it depending on the situation. Let's say it's a situation and it's a matter of what they're having to drink for breakfast. Now I've done this before too, so don't worry. I'm going to follow myself here.
I have gotten up in the morning, got my child ready, ready for breakfast, I just grabbed a juice and I set it down for her, and I said there you go. And she says no. She doesn't want to drink juice. She does not want juice, she doesn't want it, winds up on the floor, or wherever else if she decides to throw a tantrum but she didn't want that juice. Now what I could have done especially if I know that my toddler might behave this way, is instead of giving the juice and saying, "Drink it," I could have asked her, "Now do you want to have juice or do you want to have milk this morning?"
And instead of a "yes" or "no" answer, that doesn't...juice or milk, that doesn't require "yes" or "no" answer, that requires her to think about it herself and decide which one do I want. That gives her options and gives her the ability to make her own decision. Now we're doing this in a very limited area. We don't want to make the options too broad because that's going to be too frustrating for you, the parent, but we do want to provide limited options to our child so they can feel like they're thinking for themselves.
Okay, so another way to do this and I will say that this is a bit of a trick on children but it does work with the really little ones, eventually they will catch on. Let's say you're trying to get them dressed and you want your daughter or your son to put a shirt on. And you're giving them the shirt or trying to get the shirt on and they are screaming "no", they don't want to put the shirt on and it just turns them into a total tantrum. Okay, well instead of picking out a shirt and saying put this on, or picking out a shirt and immediately putting it over their head, take out the shirt and I'd recommend starting this or trying this with a fairly plain shirt. I pick out the shirt and then show it to them and say, "Okay, how do you want to wear your shirt today? Do you want to wear it frontwards or do you want to wear it backwards?"
Now, to us this is achieving our goal. We're getting the shirt on the child whether it's frontwards or backwards, or if it's a plain-colored shirt, I don't really care. But the child, one, thinks it's kind of funny because mummy or daddy is asking me if I want to put the shirt on backwards, and two, I get to choose. So if I want to put the shirt on backwards, I get to put the shirt on backwards. And if I want to wear it forward, it was my decision, not mummy and daddy's. That gives them the ability to think a little bit for themselves but overall, we, the parents, are achieving our goal.
Now there is one situation, not really one situation, but one category where this does not apply. You can't give them options and that's when it comes to safety. Let's say you're trying to buckle your child up in a car and they are kicking, screaming no, no, no, they don't want to be buckled up. Well the fact of the matter is they have to be buckled up. It's not an area for push-pull, anything like that. So at those times you really need to stand your ground as the parent and say, "I know that this is frustrating for you but this is not a time where you have the choice to choose. We can't give you options here. I'm mummy. I'm telling you, you need to do this and you're going to do it." This is kind of the one category where we can do this. We can stand our ground, put our foot down and simply tell our child, it is what it is because I'm mummy.
Now, you want to make sure to really be careful when you use this way of demanding your child do something. You don't want to think on a daily basis or you don't want your child thinking on a daily basis that life is full of just a bunch of demands from your parent. They have to have the options to build that self-confidence, to be able to think for themselves, which inevitably, we want them to be able to do as adults.
Now, one other thing I wanted to touch on is you may notice, especially with toddlers, that you yourself say no a lot. So there's a lot of, "No, don't touch that. No, don't play with that. No, stop begging," Watch how much you say no yourself because that's what your toddler is really picking up on. And if you say no a lot in day-to-day life, they're going to think that's just how you do things and that's how you should respond. So your child really does pull off of the attitude and the verbiage that you use. So make sure that you're always using positive words. And if you are trying to tell your child no, instead of say no, try to redirect them on to something else so you don't have to touch on that "no" subject.
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