Negotiation, toddler style


Lately we’ve come to realise that it’s possible to use logic with Katy. These are some tactics that have worked so far.

1. Closed choices

“Do you want to go to the playground or eat blueberries?”

This one had the effect of stalling her for a good few minutes while she tried to make up her mind. (Fortunately she hasn’t yet figured out that she can ask to have both options.)

2. If/then

“If you don’t sit down and put on your shoes, we can’t go out.”

This works better when there’s the luxury of time for her to process the possible consequences. Which isn’t always the case.

Sometimes this overlaps with pre-empting: “If you drop that spoon while you’re playing with it, you won’t get another spoon.”

This is handy for staving off a potential tantrum caused by a situation of her own making. She sulks, but she knows she’s not getting her way.

3. (Misplaced) praise

“Please don’t grab Papa’s glasses. Give them back. Good girl, you gave Papa his glasses back!”

Not so much a negotiation tactic as a sort of a mind game. Often, all we’re really doing is trying to turn bad behaviour around and derive a positive outcome that can be reinforced. (Katy has a habit of applauding herself when this happens.)

4. Empathy

“Can we stop playing for a while so that Mummy can go inside and drink some water? Mummy is very thirsty.”

As much as it’s nigh impossible to convince a toddler to think for someone else other than herself, Katy isn’t entirely terrible at it.

And of course, for every instance where negotiation and logic work, there are three other instances where the vagaries of her toddler brain just won’t let us catch a break. Welp.

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