Some of my worst parenting moments when the twins were toddlers were when we were trying to get out the door to go somewhere. Not only was it the chore of getting the diaper bag ready, it was the trial of herding the boys into the car. They just didn’t want to get in the car or the car seat. It was a 10 minute process and sometimes ended ugly. Definitely not my finest parenting moments.
I started talking to friends and one recommended the book Love and Logic. As soon as I figured out this one trick, I found I could stay a step ahead of the situation. This even worked on all sorts of situations like leaving a store or just going upstairs to bed.
Here is the big parenting trick that saved me many many times…
Give 2 choices but both choices end with the result you want.
If you are like me when I first read it you are saying, “that’s impossible”. This is where we get tricky with our kids. We can outsmart our 2 and 3 year olds, right?? Ok, maybe not sometimes but here is how to come up with your choices.
Let’s say you want your kid to get in the car. They are stalling and running around screaming “No!” when you get close to pick them up. You can say “Do you want to get in your seat by crawling like a kitty cat or do you want me to pick you up like a super hero and you fly in?” Both are a fun choice and they are likely to pick one.
Now this situation works the very best when you know what situations makes your child stall the most. Now my kids would hate going up our stairs at bedtime because they knew the day was over. We started planning ahead and got ourselves into the routine of always having 2 animals to choose from to act like as we went up the stairs. Every night instead of going up the stairs I would say, do we want to act like monkeys or stomp like dinosaurs while we go up the stairs. They would focus on the choice instead of the act I wanted them to do.
The Hard Part
I found being creative when you are working on the fly to sometimes be difficult. If they all of a sudden don’t want to leave a friend’s house and I am in a hurry or tired, it is hard to come up with 2 choices that both work to get your child to do what you need them to do.
But after you get into the routine of offering 2 choices it does come easier because your brain has lots of previous winners. Do they want Mommy to jump around like a kangaroo or do they want to see who can sing twinkle twinkle the loudest while they put on their coat?
When I am regularly using this in my arsenal of Mom tricks we can get out the door without much fuss and with actual smiles on our faces. I love having some parenting tricks to help calm any power struggles between my kids and I, like in my previous post when your child wants to have the last word in arguments.
I don’t read a ton of parenting books but Love and Logic was worth the time to read it. Do you have any parenting books you recommend? I have the 2 choices from Love and Logic pretty well now. The next thing I need to get under control is arguing/teasing amongst siblings. It never ends, always something else we need to work on, right? I have the book Positive Discipline on my nightstand to read next. I’ll take other suggestions too. Let’s help each other.
Let me know if these tips work for you.
Joules (from Pocketful of Joules) says
Getting my slow poke out of bed is the WORST, but recently I realized that if I start singing Old McDonald has a farm it is too hard for him to resist filling in the name of an animal… lol
That’s a good one. Love that idea.
This is such a great idea! I also have twin boys. MIne are 4, and still stall when it comes to getting in the car, or leaving somewhere fun. I need to think up a couple choices ahead of time. I wish I had some advice on the arguing because it never stops in our house.
Yes, our arguing is more between the youngest and the older two. My twins get along really great but when you throw my daughter in the mix it is non stop arguing.
Kam Kay says
Giving them two choices always worked wonders for me as well, instead of asking them a choice between yes or no. Thanks for the great tips!
Rachel Langer says
I had no problems with this when my boys are little but they sure stall now as preteens! I am going to use this same trick and see how it goes. If nothing else they will continue to think I am nuts. ?
Oh man…I was hoping it ended when they got older. 🙂
I think you make a good if accidental point. This two-choices thing seems fun and gentle, but ultimately, does it work? Does the lesson stick? This is my biggest frustration with most modern-day parenting advice. It is so often kid-centered, when the real lesson that needs to be learned is “mom is in charge and you must obey, whether you want to or not.” I know this isn’t the “fun” lesson. Certainly it isn’t the easy lesson. But I fear we are missing the forest for the trees and ultimately trading obedience for games that they will one day outgrow. At some point, I think we just need to teach the hard lesson and expect excellence.
I agree totally with what you’re saying here. I’m having problems with my 4 year old and we’ve always been able to offer him choices about what to do. Unfortunately now he doesn’t seem to understand that we are in charge and he has to do what a grown up says. Its a difficult balance!
This is great! I always try to use incentives when I see one of my kids stalling. Recently, my 5 year old has been dragging his feet when I need to leave. He’s very emotional, so, and this might seem mean, but I will go open the garage and get in the car as though I’m leaving, and he always comes running out thinking I’m leaving him. I think it’s funny and it works all the time.
I have had to resort to that once before too. Now that my boys are a little older they don’t care…they are like “sweet, I’ll have the whole house to myself!”. They basically call my bluff.
Sara Buckner says
This is such a good ides! i don’t have kids yet but I’ll have to remember this when i do and struggle with getting them out the door.
Amanda Love says
I’ve been a parent for 20 years and I use that trick especially now with my youngest. She gets choices and she thinks she’s doing it on her own but I outsmarted her. 😀
Yep, I love outsmarting them. Once they get a little older they seem to outsmart me more often. 🙂
Yanique Chambers says
I will have to try this technique with my daughter. She hates going to bed and always stalls. I can see how it would get tricky trying to think of things on the fly. I will probably make up some prearranged choices for situations I know she will stall in before hand to make coming up with choices a little easier.
Terri Steffes says
As a school principal, this is how I ran my building, using Love and Logic. I loved this book! I’m not sure that all my teachers were on board with it, I think sometimes they just wanted fire and brimstone stuff.
Rose Sahetapy says
Kids like something that make them think instead giving them an order. The idea of giving two choices is really good and like you said, this idea can be used on every situation.
Mrs. AOK says
I’m not sure where I read it or if I saw it on a television show, but I remember getting this advice from somewhere about “giving choices”, which is honestly one of the best pieces of advice in my 14 years of motherhood. I can honestly say giving my children two options has helped to keep flow in my home.
Rebecca Bryant says
this is a great idea. Luckily my son is petty good about getting out of the house on time.
I use this trick for a lot of things and it works like a charm! It is seriously my favorite parenting trick!
That is a great book. So many good tips and practical advice.
Dawn McAlexander says
My daughter is usually pretty good about leaving when I need her to. She is 19 though.
jill conyers says
I’ve never had this problem with my kids but the tip will be helpful to many.
My son is so bad at this, that every morning I get frustrated. I will take these tips in and hopefully use them!
My kids are usually pretty good when we have to get going out of the house. I wonder if this would work for my husband – he seems to give me more trouble 😀
Funny! Let’s try it on adults too and see if it works. 😉
I do this all the time in the classroom! It really does work wonders to give a child a choice. The important part is remembering that the outcome should be in your favor. 🙂
Baby Names says
I believe all the parents meet this problem when we are ready to leave, this post is helpful!
I am so glad. Yes, it is nice when we find a way to get them to easily get out the door.