The moment you start fighting with a toddler, you have already lost. Everyone loses, but the parent especially. The main problem is that a toddler will treat every minor infraction with the same amount of vigor. It doesn’t matter if they have just broken their leg or if you gave them cheerios in the wrong bowl. When your toddler has the fighting spirit, nothing can stop them. So the question is, how hard should we try?
Right now, my household is a warzone. We are fighting the “Battle of the Bulge,” by which I mean there is no bulge because they’re refusing to eat. (Boy, that was a stretch for a mildly offensive comparison and a not-funny joke, wasn’t it? As you can see, I am no longer working at full mental capacity.) Anyway, there is no amount of threatening, cajoling, begging or compromising that will get a spoonful of delicious, nutritious, lovingly-prepared food into their mouths. And if I do, miraculously, trick them into taking a bite? Well, they get a good taste because it can stay in there for up to an hour.
They have won. They have engaged me. I, the adult, find myself on hands and knees, asking a toddler over and over again what is it that I can do for her as she tantrums and pushes me away. I’ve never been a parent before, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work.
Toddlers should walk around with a big “Do Not Engage” sign on their chests. You’ll never win. The only way an adult can win against a toddler is by using Judo techniques. Ninja them. You have to keep your calm and wits about you as they throw their deadliest weapons at you, namely the mind-numbing carrying on that can last for as long as they think it ought. Catch them before it gets to this point, if you can. Make them think that whatever they don’t want they actually do want, either by telling them they can’t have it yet or making as if you are going to do it without them.
Toddlers have very little control in their lives, and it’s about this time that they start craving more. They, more than anything, want to let you know that it’s their life, and you couldn’t possibly understand it. They want to show you that they are the boss of themselves. I hear this comes back in the teenage years, and I am already looking forward to it.
If you can somehow take the control out of the picture, everybody will be happier. I know I usually dole out the advice, but if someone here knows how to do that, I would humbly accept any words of wisdom at this point.
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