13 February 2006

Choice words

Elana avoids meltdowns by avoiding yes-or-no questions:

One of the best things we learned was that kids shouldn't get questions that can be answered "yes" or "no."  Always give them a choice, and everyone ends up happy...they've decided for themselves, and you've avoided a massive meltdown that "no" can bring.

The wisdom of this advice appeals to me in theory, but I have what I like to call a "Choice C" kid. I give him a choice between A or B, and he suggests C, and we're back in throwing distance of a tantrum. When this happens, I change tactics and try to distract him.

"Honey, do you want milk or water with your lunch?"
"I want orange juice!"
"Yum! I just got a new batch of oranges! I'll cut some for you."
[Pause. Luke contemplates the oranges and forgets about the beverage choice. I silently pour him a glass of milk.]

Not always practical, but when it works, I've sidestepped at least 15 minutes of misery.

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A similar strategy that I use with my son is to just "let him win" once in a while. Ask a question anticipating a "no."

So, near the end of the bedtime ritual, I ask "are you ready to lie down and go to sleep?" The answer is almost always "no," but that's fine. When it's really time for bed, I don't ask, and he goes peacefully to bed.

I got so tired of EVERYTHING being a choice (she'd not be able to decide, then tell me which one and then change her mind)... so I just started saying "do you want milk or no milk?" If she wants it, she gets it in the cup that I give her. She pulled a few tantrums about that but learned pretty quickly to just accept what I give her.

My personal favourite lately (new depths of parental despair), for putting on a shirt: Do you want to put your head in first or your hadns in first? Crazy toddlers. (and their crazy parents...)

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