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Get Your Toddler to Cooperate!

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Kid Cooperation and Perfect Parenting

Toddlers and preschoolers require finesse to gain their cooperation, because they have not yet reached the age at which they can see and understand the whole picture, so simply explaining what you want doesnít always work. Robert Scotellaro is quoted in The Funny Side of Parenthood as saying, "Reasoning with a two-year-old is about as productive as changing seats on the Titanic." (He must have had a two-year-old at the time.)

You can get around this frustrating state of affairs by changing your approach. Letís look at two situations Ė first the typical (Titanic) way:

Parent: David! Time to change your diaper.

David: No! (As he runs off)

Parent: Come on honey. Itís time to leave, I need to change you.

David: (Giggles and hides behind sofa)

Parent: David, this isnít funny. Itís getting late. Come here.

David: (Doesnít hear a word. Sits down to do a puzzle.)

Parent: Come here! (Gets up and approaches David)

David: (Giggles and runs)

Parent: (Picking up David) Now lie here. Stop squirming! Lie still. Will you stop this!

(As parent turns to pick up a new diaper, a little bare bottom is running away)

Iím sure youíve all been there. Oh, and by the way, David is my son. And this was an actual scene recorded in his baby book. Like you, I got very tired of this. And then I discovered a better way:

Parent: (Picking up diaper and holding it like a puppet, making it talk in a silly, squeaky voice) Hi David! Iím Dilly Diaper! Come here and play with me!

David: (Running over to Diaper) Hi Dilly!

Parent as Diaper: Youíre such a nice boy. Will you give me a kiss?

David: Yes. (Gives diaper a kiss)

Parent as Diaper: How Ďbout a nice hug?

David: (Giggles and hugs Diaper)

Parent as Diaper: Lie right here next to me. Right here. Yup. Can I go on you? Oh yes?! Goody goody goody! (The diaper chats with David while heís being changed. Then it says, Oh, David! Listen, I hear your shoes calling you Ė David! David!

The most amazing thing about this trick is that it works over and over and over and over. Youíll keep thinking, "Heís not honestly going to fall for this again?" But he will! Probably the nicest by-product of this method is that it gets you in a good mood and you have a little fun time with your child.

When youíve got a toddler this technique is a pure lifesaver. When my son David was little I used this all the time. (I then used it with my youngest child, Coleton, and it worked just as well.) Remembering back to one day, when David was almost three, we were waiting in a long line at the grocery store and I was making my hand talk to him. It was asking him questions about the items in the cart. Suddenly, he hugged my hand, looked up at me and said, "Mommy, I love for you to pretend this hand is talking."

Another parent reported that she called her toddler to the table for dinner a number of times, when he calmly looked up at her, chubby hands on padded hips and said, "Mommy, why donít you have my dinner call to me?"

And suddenly, the peas on his plate came to life and called out to him; he ran over to join the family at the dinner table.

A variation on this technique, that also works very well, is to capitalize on a young childís vivid imagination as a way to thwart negative emotions. Pretend to find a trail of caterpillars on the way to the store, hop to the car like a bunny, or pretend a carrot gives you magic powers as you eat it.

Itís delightful to see how a potentially negative situation can be turned into a fun experience by changing a childís focus to fun and fantasy.

Excerpted with permission from Kid Cooperation, How to Stop Yelling, Nagging and Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate by Elizabeth Pantley Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

Copyright 1996 Published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. (http://www.newharbinger.com/)

The environment that your baby enjoyed for nine long months in the womb was not one of absolute quiet. There was a constant symphony of sound -- your heartbeat and fluids rushing in and out of the placenta. (Remember those sounds from when you listened to your babyís heartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope?) Research indicates that "white noise" sounds or soft bedtime music helps many babies to relax and fall asleep more easily. This is most certainly because these sounds create an environment more familiar to your baby than a very quiet room.

Many people enjoy using soothing music as their babyís sleep sound. If you do, choose bedtime music carefully. Some music (including jazz and much classical music) is too complex and stimulating. For music to be soothing to your baby, pick simple, repetitive, predictable music, like traditional lullabies. Tapes created especially for putting babies to sleep are great choices. Pick something that you will enjoy listening to night after night, too. (Using a tape player with an automatic repeat function is helpful for keeping the music going as long as you need it to play.)

There are widely available, and very lovely, "nature sounds" tapes that work nicely, too, as well those small sound-generating or white-noise devices and clocks you may have seen in stores. The sounds on these -- raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water -- often are similar to those sounds your baby heard in utero. A ticking clock or a bubbling fish tank also make wonderful white-noise options.

"I went out today and bought a small aquarium and the humming noise does seem to relax Chloe and help her to sleep. I didnít buy any fish though. Who has time to take care of fish when youíre half asleep all day?"
~ Tanya, mother of 13-month-old Chloe

You can find some suitable tapes and CDs made especially for babies or those made for adults to listen to when they want to relax. Whatever you choose, listen to it first and ask yourself: Does this relax me? Would it make me feel sleepy if I listened to it in bed?

If you must put your baby to sleep in a noisy, active house full of people, keeping the tape running (auto rewind) will help mask baby-waking noises like dishes clanking, people talking, siblings giggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleeping baby from a noisy daytime house to which heís become accustomed subconsciously to one of absolute nighttime quiet.

Once your baby is familiar with his calming noise, or music, you can use these to help your baby fall back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Simply sooth him by playing the music (very quietly) during the calming and falling-asleep time. If he wakes and cries, repeat this process.

If your baby gets used to his sleep time sounds you can take advantage of this and take the tape with you if you will be away from home for naptime or bedtime. The familiarity of these sounds will help your baby sleep in an unfamiliar environment.

Eventually your baby will rely on this technique less and less to fall and stay asleep. Donít feel you must rush the process; there is no harm in your baby falling asleep to these gentle sounds. When you are ready to wean him of these you can help this process along by reducing the volume by a small amount every night until you finally donít turn the music or sounds on at all.

Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they are just one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep Ė gently, without any crying at all.

Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002

Website: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth

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