Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Con Your Kid

I'm increasingly finding myself having to use choice strategy to work through grumpy moods and challenging behaviour. I remember first reading this in a book I was given as a gift when I was pregnant. The book is called "How to Con Your Kid". (Come to think of it, I should pull it out for more pointers for how to get her to brush her teeth or let me brush them for her properly.)

Tonight for example, Violet was getting tired and was being indecisive about which pajamas she wanted to wear. Sounded a bit like this

V: Santa jamas, yeah..
So I pull out the Santa pink and red pajamas.
V: No santa jamas. Owl jamas. [insert big smile]
Me: OK, here are the owl pajamas!
V: NO! Skel-ton jamas, skel-ton jamas!!
Me: But the Owl pajamas are fresh and clean. Hoot! Hoot! You're so cute! These are nice.
V: NO!! So I pull out the Skeleton pajamas.
V: NO skel-ton!!!

Me (thinking): Ok, I tried. I am not power struggling with my 2 year old.
Me (saying sternly): Do you want to go to bed or do you want to read a story? Those are your choices.
V: Read story.
Me: Alright, let's get dressed so we have time to read a story. If we take too long we'll run out of time and have to go straight to bed.

Back on track.. now we're focused on getting to story time.

I'm sure most people do this intuitively but wanted to make a note to self. I find it is a very effective way of moving past a power struggle without resorting to bribing or fear tactics. Other strategies I see readily used to 'con' kids.

It empowers kids too. It gives them the choice. It also focuses their attention on what's next so that we can move past the current upset. The hard part perhaps is following through with negative consequences if the 'wrong' choice is chosen. Thankfully Violet hasn't started testing me yet.

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