All parents have been here: Your child won’t open her mouth when it’s time to brush her teeth. Your child refuses to leave the park, the mall, the house, thus making you late. You want to trim your child’s fingernails, but she squirms away. And all that protesting comes from a little three-year-old, particularly when you really, really, really want them to do something.
My three-year-old Kowi is just like that. I certainly think she’s a natural born protester. And she’s increasingly determined to assert her independence.
How do you get a stubborn preschooler to cooperate without resorting to yelling or threats?
Distracting has been working for me, so far. But I am, by no means, a master. Creativity and a lot of patience are required to perfect the skill of redirection.
Here are a few techniques that may help fellow parents avert incoming tantrums. They have been successful for me--mostly
1. Tell a secret. I usually whisper in her ear and tell her something “very important” and ask if she wants to hear it. She usually nods yes. Then I scoop her up and bring her to the car.
2. Sing. I sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with the wrong lyrics. Kowi usually focuses more on my “wrong words” than me shampooing her hair.
3. Ask a question. This technique was used successfully by my sister, Ceejay. I left Kowi at home and she started a major meltdown. Ceejay sat beside her and asked her something. Kowi totally stopped crying and thought about the answer to the question.
4. Recall a favorite time. When it’s time for a nail trim, I ask Kowi if she remembers an event or a situation or even a story she’s fond of. I start talking about it in detail then ask her to add other details that I pretend not to remember.
5. If all else fails, I just disappear into another room and hope that the incoming tantrum is short-lived. And I breathe in and breathe out, in and out...
Avert incoming tantrums successfully, this is my wish to every parent.