I often find that when it comes to parenting, it can be the simplest of tips that actually works.
One tip that I always give parents of 2-4 year olds is simply, “choices, choices.” Let me give you and example;
Tonight we got home late for dinner and I was tired and lazy and didn’t clip Immy’s harness when she was sitting in her high chair. Inevitably, part way through the meal, Immy stood up! I said, “Sit down, please.” She said, “No!” Then I remembered my golden rule, “choices, choices,” and said, “Do you want to sit down by yourself or does Mummy need to do it?” She immediately said, “Me,” pointing to herself, and sat down. Then I quickly did up the harness so we did not have a repeat performance!
What a change re-phrasing the request made.
Toddlers love to feel independent. It’s part of their development – they are learning that they are a person independent from everybody else and so they are testing their independence constantly. Hence, you will commonly hear lots of ‘me!’ and ‘no!’ and ‘mine!’ And these can often be accompanied by temper tantrums as toddlers are learning to control their emotions when they don’t get their own way and often do not yet have the words to express how they feel.
By phrasing requests as choices and making one choice your desired outcome (sitting down by herself) and the other choice much less desirable (me doing it for her), you give your child a feeling of greater power – they feel like they are in control of deciding the outcome and you improve the likelihood that the outcome is something you can live with!
Give it a try and let me know how you go.