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So, you are having a power struggle with your toddler?

You are feeling like, well frankly, an idiot.

You are thinking, “why am I arguing with a child?”
You are feeling that he/she should have a hefty amount of respect for you and know that you are ‘the boss of him/her’ – right? We have all been there. We say things like “if you are not ready, I am leaving without you” and “do you want to be in a time-out?” Well, obviously you are not going to leave without her and it is likely that he wants to be in a time out.

So, what should you say?
Let’s back up a bit… let’s determine what happened. Did your daughter do something wrong? Did she know it was wrong? Why do you think (if you think like her for a moment) she did it? Do you think she did it to be defiant? Or was it more out of curiosity? It is SO difficult to take a moment before you react… believe me, I know. If it was out of curiosity, and the bowl and all of its contents are now all over the floor, her and her new dress you are definitely frustrated. How do you think she feels. Do you think she might be afraid of your reaction? Maybe she is upset, embarrassed, maybe she is so sad she has ruined her dress, maybe she is remorseful.

So now what?
Likely she is all of these things and you are at your wit’s end. You asked her not to touch the bowl, didn’t you? She is crying and maybe you want to cry too. If you had an accident in your car and reached out to someone you loved… what would you want them to say? Would you want them to say, I told you, you drive too fast? I cannot believe you crashed our new car! Why don’t you listen? Now our insurance is going to go up! Great – Now look what you’ve done! Would these things make you stop crying? Would you feel like the person you love loves you back? Would you feel better or would you feel defensive? “I do not drive too fast!

Now imagine…
you call and that person says are you alright? you must have been so scared! You are ok. Yes, this is a mess, but we can figure it out. The important thing is that you are safe. Later, when all is said and done. You may even admit to driving a little too fast.

Do you see where I am going here?
Let’s say your child is taking forever to get dressed, pick up his things and allow you to get out of the house. He really needs to go to the bathroom before you leave and he just keeps finding the most fun toys to play with while he is ‘supposed’ to be cleaning up. You are frustrated. You don’t particularly care about this birthday party – it’s a 4-year-old. You guys are going to be late – it is inevitable! So it’s time to get a move on! You walk into his room and he is in his underwear playing with spiderman. The room is a mess and he doesn’t seem particularly phased.

Let’s evaluate.
Your child, while brilliant, has no concept of time. NONE. And, if they do understand time as a concept they do not feel it the way we do. We know about how long 15 minutes lasts. A child does not. They grow to feel it. However, ironically, it takes time. Them remember how quickly time goes by when you are having fun. And, how slowly time passes when you are at the DMV. Once you realize that time is not concrete it will change your life. Instead – give him tasks. I want to see how fast you can get dressed. Can you count? When you are dressed, come find me! If you present it like this, you will likely have an eager participant. When you holler 11 from the kitchen, he is reminded of his challenge. When he hears your feet in the hallway he will pick up the pace. Now, the room is still a mess.

What to do?
Well, he is dressed, and you still have a few things to do before you leave. Should you leave him to his room? Sure. You just have to clarify. I am going to switch over the laundry. When I get back, I want all of those legos away! If you are all finished with the legos before I get back, straighten your covers on your bed. That’s it. 2 things. He knows you are coming back and he will need to have at least the legos away. If she gets to the bed – you will be so proud. As you return notice his efforts. Praise him for a job well done. Look for another chose to give him. Come back soon. If he needs a little help – help him by holding a bucket or bag for him to put things inside. You can count the items he places in the bag. You can also direct him to pick up the blue one, the red one. It WILL take a moment. Bond with him and teach him how to start cleaning and keep cleaning. It will be time well spent AND invested in his future.

Sometimes they are dilly-dallying
They might be reluctant to go to the party. They do not know what to expect and because you are anxious to go – they feel your anxiety. This is a little different. This is when they seem clingy. They want to be near you – which is entirely counter-productive. How can you get them away from you, dressed and ready to go? First, take a deep breath. Then, scoop that little one up onto your lap and hug him. Don’t let go. Just love on him until he squirms out of your embrace. He will feel loved, you will let go of your anxiety and then you both will be ready to tackle the day. THIS WORKS. It is a complete detour from what we typically think… keep moving. It serves to tell the child you love him. Even if his room is messy and he is not dressed, you love him.

What better place to begin?

Did that help? Read more blogs with tips from Danielle’s Desk here!

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