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How To Get a Two Year Old To Do What You Want

How To Get a Two Year Old To Do What You Want

Kids between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half are not just wobbly. They're drunk on Power. Yes, the top-heavy little monkeys totter around gleefully exploring a newfound sense of Power. And that Power lies in their ability to say No and kick and scream their way out of a request.

Here's how to get your way while letting your child keep a healthy illusion of Power.

If you have a very young child, then you know "No" is often the kid's knee-jerk response to any question or request, including "do you want ice cream?"

To get your way with the least resistance, give the child two options to choose from...both of which are desirable to you.

For example, if you say "pick up your blocks," you're up against a person who is willing to spend the next two weeks resisting you if that's what it takes. While you just want the blocks picked up so you can put the kid to bed and have a few martinis. Time MEANS something to you. Time means nothing to a very small child.

Instead you say "Do you want to pick up the blocks with your hands or do you want to pick them up with a shovel?"

Also useful is "Do you want to climb into bed yourself or do you want me to Help You?" Where "Help You" is a euphemism for "I physically make you do something." When given a choice between doing an unpleasant thing themselves and being "helped" many two year olds will opt to do it themselves.

This works Really Well. You'll be amazed. My son often resisted hugging his Aunt Robin, unless I said "Do you want to give your Aunt Robin a hug or a kiss?" Then he'd choose one and dutifully proceed to dispense the forced affection as though it was it own idea.

You could try to punish the kid into obedience. And sometimes this is necessary. After all, when your kid is running toward the road, you wouldn't say "Johnny! Do you want to stop running for the deadly cars or do you want to race to the garage?" No. You say, "STOP NOW!" and you deal dramatically with disobedience. But such displays of raw power should be reserved for life threatening events. In fact, a good rule of thumb is, if your child obeys only one command it should be "STOP NOW!"

But mostly, the objective is to spare you as much grief as possible while delivering the desired result. Punishment requires Work and the child makes Noise when she's being punished. That's no good. Try offering binary options and your life will be much easier.

Warning: This strategy works for about a year and then stops working. Once the child nears three, she'll start to think about the choices you're offering. You'll see her ponder the options you gave her and she'll realize that her options are far greater than the two you present. This is a sad and fascinating day.