Every mom dreams of the day her child will start walking and talking, but every mom also quickly snaps out of those rosy fantasies when their sweet little angel turns into a chorus of "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!"
Oh dear! What's a mom to do?
Many of us resort to begging (pretty please), guilting
(mommy is so sad when you don't), bribing (I'll get you a pony), and
sometimes even threatening. And while these methods may be effective at the
time, they teach less than desirable habits and can backfire when your kid
comes back at you with the same lines.
Case in point: "Mommy, pretty please pretty please pretty pleeeeease! Can I
not brush my teeth tonight?"
Part of these fits are evolutionary—your child is learning
to be his or her own person and asserting their independence, but when left unchecked they can turn into bad habits.
Fortunately, there are a handful of methods that you can use
to get through to your kids, all of which are backfire-proof.
1. The Broken Record
Sometimes little minds get a little excited and forget to
listen, pay attention, or even remember that you exist. The Broken Record
Method is a simple fix: simply repeat what you need them to do and why in a
straightforward, direct tone until they do. Eventually, you'll wear through the
oblivion, resistance and denial, and your child will understand that this item
is non-negotiable, and keeping your voice calm conveys that this is simply how
For me personally, the longest it's ever taken was 15
repetitions of: "I need you to brush your teeth and put on your jammies because
it's time to go to sleep", and that was after some evil, evil, evil person had
given my little one Mountain Dew at a party.
Be sure to reward your kids for their attempts at doing good as well as their great accomplishments, and you'll quickly find that even the most obstinate little minds will fall in line.
2. Explain Cause and
Young minds are all about instant gratification, causing
them to overlook the consequences of their actions. That's why simply
explaining to them what happens when we break the rules can have a powerful
effect. You may have to repeat yourself a few times, and be wary of crossing
over into guilting, since that could set them up for a lifetime of being
yes-people, or even worse, cause them to guilt you one day.
3. Make it Fun
Now, let's be fair: some of the things you're asking your
little one to do are actually just boring and tedious, and even adults require
interactive fun apps to do everything from paying their bills to getting their
10,000 steps. The Internet is overflowing with fun, creative ideas on how to
make every kid chore more fun.
4. Lead by Example
Boring, repetitive chores have zero appeal to our little
ones, but social inclusion does. For simple tasks like cleaning up, eating, or
brushing teeth, sometimes it just takes a really enthusiastic role model to
show them how much fun it really is. Don't try to persuade them. They will figure
that out in no time. Simply push them aside, and go about scrubbing, sweeping,
putting away with gusto, and wait for them to come clamoring to join the fun!
5. Social Isolation
Occasionally, your toddler will go off the deep end and make
a stink (and not the potty kind!) Since
social inclusion is one of the most important motivators to humans of all ages,
simply putting a child down, turning your back and saying: "When you act like
that I don't want to play with you" may be enough to get them back to being their
lovely little selves. You can also try refusing a goodnight kiss until their
teeth are brushed or asking them to sit on the other end of the sofa until
they have taken their bath.
A little praise goes a long way, and while excessive praise
has been criticized in creating a generation of needy, egocentric millennials,
consistent rewarding of effort has been shown to create motivated, engaged and
confident kids. Be sure to reward your kids for their attempts at doing good as
well as their great accomplishments, and you'll quickly find that even the most
obstinate little minds will fall in line.