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Is it ok to give in to your toddler?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
DP and I have been trying to decide when it's okay to give in to our 19-month-old dd, and whether we do it too much.

Here are a couple of examples of recent situations where I gave in and did what she wanted:

1) I was sitting on the sofa while Lindy played nearby, and for some mysterious reason she didn't want me to set down an empty bowl I was holding. Every time I tried, she started crying hard. It was slightly annoying to keep holding it, but it seemed important to her, so I did it.

2) We were going upstairs, and Lindy wanted me to carry up her plastic ride-on car. I told her, no, we'd just leave the car downstairs, but she got very upset and cried. I decided it really wasn't a big deal to carry it up, and I went ahead and did it.

So how do the rest of you handle situations like those? What's your philosophy on giving in to tantrums or crying?

I'm still deciding what my philosophy is - that's why I'm interested in other people's ideas - but so far my idea is that we shouldn't generally do anything we strongly don't want to do just to keep Lindy happy - nothing dangerous, or very expensive or very inconvenient. But if she's really unhappy, it does seem right to me to pay attention to her feelings, even if that sometimes means changing our minds and doing what she wants instead of what we want.
post #2 of 35
Perfect! Everything you are doing and thinking is perfect. This is a great example of conscious parenting, and I congratulate you on it. I think you can feel when something just isn't worth it, and you know what to do in these situations. I have found in my experience that if you think briefly before acting or speaking, you will find you say no less often. If you say no (or another phrase meaning 'no') then you have a small window of opportunity to change your mind.

I like to treat my daughter like a friend, and if a friend comes over and says, "oh, could you put that thing over there and not in front of me?" I might think, "weirdo" but I will go along with it. Same with my child. As you say, dangerous or other 'no way in he**' type situations, you can stick to your guns and show that some things are not negotiable.

But remember that the window of opportunity to change your mind is small. If you say no and she insists, decide then what you will do. Tantrums usually set in when you have said no more than once, and they are desperate. I never gave in to tantrums, just offered cuddles, and now at two and a half, we haven't had anything like a tantrum all year, because she knows I won't give in after the second no, and I always offer an explanation she can accept.

Feel free to change your mind, and to allow her more than most parents would. I find many children are told no for reasons that make no sense to me (other than being unwilling to help them explore), so do what you're doing. But I caution the tantrum, try not to let it escalate to giving in at that point, if you're going to give in, do it early.

Blessings.
post #3 of 35
i'm also interested in the responses...last night we let oceano take his ride-on-tractor to bed with him, and today i let him take his metal truck in the tub, both after i had told him we were going to leave the items behind. i'm with you where my general feeling is that a little flexibility about the small issues probably just saves all our nerves. we certainly don't waffle on more important issues...like throwing objects at people, etc. oceano is the same age as lindy, must be the right age for serious toddler assertive behavior i'm curioius to hear from those with older kids...oceano doesn't seem to be generally 'spoiled' by my occasional capitulation, but who knows what the future holds!
post #4 of 35
Interesting topic -- and I just want to say that I learned a great deal about this subject and other in the Gentle Discipline forum. Check it out. You might not think this is a "true" discipline issue but it is....there's a lot of great mamas over there with terrific experiences to share.

That said, just the fact you're thinking this through is a good thing.

Does that make sense?
post #5 of 35
I agree with the other posters. I think it's definitely one of those "choose your battles" types of things. I don't think that you're just blindly giving in, you're weighing the decisions before you make them, and that's the important thing.
post #6 of 35
I do believe in choosing battles, but I am careful not to give in at every little thing. If something is inconvenient for me, that is a good ennough reason, for me, not to give in.

Sometimes I think if you give in too much kids can start to fear not getting their own way. They, on some level, don't know if they will "survive" not getting what they want. I have seen kids (my niece and nephew) really freak out when they don't because they are so terrified of feeling "bad"

I think the most wonderful thing a person can learn is "I can not get what I want and still feel OK." And another important thing to know "I have the power, within myself, to get over disapointments."
post #7 of 35
Calm - I totally agree.

Sometimes I find I say no to something and upon ds' protest, I step back and think about it and realize its not that big of a deal so yes, he can have it/ do it/ whatever.

I separate situations into "biggies" and "smallies" ( is this sounding Dr. Sears-ish to anyone! LOL).

I also try to catch myself and run the dialog in my head first before saying no. Often I come to the conclusion that whatever he is doing is okay with me......
post #8 of 35
I'm super interested in this topic because I'm struggling with this with dd too. She's 28 months, and starting to do some of those things that make no sense, like the OP described. For example, on site she rejected pajamas I had bought -- saw them, started crying and saying, "No, I don't like those! NO, put them away, I don't like them, I'm not going to wear them!" She's really NOT an obstinate child most of the time, and until about a month ago, I could honestly say that she was not stubborn ANY of the time. So, this is new.

I feel really unequipped to deal with this new phase because she has been so easygoing for so long. All of a sudden, there's all these situations I felt so blessed to be missing before, like:

1. Asking for a certain food for her meal, then once I've made it, looking at it and crying that she doesn't want it, she wants something else.

2. Wanting to stand next to our garbage can with her hand inside it, and melting down when I tell her she can't do it.

3. Insisting that she wants to play in her crib, but then getting there and crying that she wants to get out, then being taken out and yelling, "no, I want to play IN my crib!"

She's very articulate, so I have no doubt about what she is saying. In each of the situations above, I feel loathe to "give in." In the first, I feel like I'm willing to give her what she wants to eat, but I'm only cooking/preparing food once, and don't want to throw away food. In the second, it's dangerous to play with our garbage (and gross!). In the third, it's just plain annoying. HOWEVER, I want her to feel that she has some control over her life, and I don't want to stifle her or say no all the time.

What to do? What's the balance?!
post #9 of 35
I think the biggest reason I give in sometimes is that, my 26 month old Dd is learning to assert herself and I want to reinforce that her feelings and opinions mean something. KWIM?
I am carefull not to take this too far and I definately stick to my guns on alot of issues. But on some little things I will either acknowledge her fellings and then give my OK, and/or find a compromise. Compromising is the biggest way for me to find that balance.
I think by not giving in sometimes you can create power struggles, and thats a fight that niether my daughter or I can win.
post #10 of 35
I try to look at my daughter as a miniature person, not a baby. While I know that she needs guidance and limits, I try to avoid saying "no" to things that aren't a big deal. Sometimes, I'll catch myself saying no when she is, for example, pulling things off the washroom counter to play with. Then I stop and ask myself, "Does it really matter if she plays with the comb that I'm not using, while I brush my hair?" Sometimes, I fear that I say "no" out of some kind of parenting power trip....just because I can. So I make a conscious effort not to do that.

If I look at her the same way that I would look at an adult friend or family member, I have an easier time deciding what's ok and not ok. I would never tell my husband, "no, you can't read that magazine right now. Why? Just because I don't want to reach over and hand it to you." So why should I tell my daughter "No, you can't play with that toy right now. Why? Because I don't want to lug it upstairs for you." It's the same reason I wouldn't use the CIO method. I thought to myself, if I was laying in bed, yelling for my husband to come upstairs because I wanted a hug, or just wanted to talk, I would be FURIOUS if he outright ignored me. I can see how my daughter would feel the same way, alone and afraid in her bedroom. So I wouldn't do it.

I think it's best to choose your battles. If your child is about to do something dangerous, by all means stop them, even if you know it will result in a tantrum. But if they are complaining because they want to play with an empty toilet paper roll while you do your hair in the morning, then I don't think it's a huge deal. As long as you're not saying no, and THEN giving in. If that's the case, they'll learn that they can still push you and push you, even after you've said no the first time. That could end up bad. :P
post #11 of 35

on becoming a YES parent...

Giving in, caving, etc, etc... catch prases for *bad parenting* in today's unattached society :
I went to a conference recently where I was challenged to become a YES parent ~ not a parent who is *walked over* (another of those nasty phrases) by their children, but a parent who *thinks* before giving a knee jerk answer, generally NO, to a child. If there is not a valid principle behind your NO (as in safety), there is no reason for NO to be your first answer. A thoughtful, considerate NO is far better received than an 'immediate response to everything' ~ it's nice when NO is respected as a non-negotiable response, but 99% of the time, the knee jerk NO's ARE negotiable and worthless, causing more stress than you need in your child's life.
HTH ~ diana
Just for today, say YES!
post #12 of 35
I have only posted a couple times here at MDC, I mostly just lurk. I wanted to add here too, as long as he is not in any danger of getting hurt physically I *generally* let carter have his way. When I do say no, I have no problems with him for the most part, if he does start getting upset, I say "Why don't we do ________ instead." A little redirection usually gets his mind off of what he was wanting to do.
post #13 of 35
All the above comments on trying to say yes when the issue is more your convenience than your child's safety, I agree with. The other question, though, is "Is my behavior keeping my child from learning a valuable life skill?"

For example, if your child wants to eat pudding with her doll's feet as the spoon, it's not hurting her. It's safe. It's also possible to clean it up. HOWEVER, in this society, we eat with utensils. Is allowing her to eat with her doll's feet truly giving her the benefit of your wisdom about this society?

By the way: my answer to that is "I don't know, but it sure would make for a great photo."
post #14 of 35
Quote:
For example, if your child wants to eat pudding with her doll's feet as the spoon, it's not hurting her.
That image made me laugh out loud. :LOL
post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fiddledebi
The other question, though, is "Is my behavior keeping my child from learning a valuable life skill?"

For example, if your child wants to eat pudding with her doll's feet as the spoon, it's not hurting her. It's safe. It's also possible to clean it up. HOWEVER, in this society, we eat with utensils. Is allowing her to eat with her doll's feet truly giving her the benefit of your wisdom about this society?
My sister (who has two older boys) brought up a similar issue yesterday when we were discussing this. She was a little troubled by the idea of Lindy "making" me keep holding the bowl when I wanted to set it down. She felt I wasn't doing Lindy any favors by letting her think it was reasonable to make that demand of me. She thought Lindy ought to learn not to try to control what other people do when it doesn't directly concern her, and also ought to begin to learn the difference between a request that makes sense and one that doesn't.

I don't think I agree with this, though. I don't think I want to forbid things just because they don't make sense to me, or because they're things that aren't generally done in our society. I do think it's useful to make sure a child learns at some point what's considered normal, polite behavior in our society and what isn't, but I don't think I want to give Lindy the idea that those norms are rules that must never be violated. I think being able to decide for yourself how to act and think, rather than letting society decide for you, is one of the most valuable life skills you can acquire.
post #16 of 35
i do like you do.

i try to pick my battles, also, like so many have said.

i give in , if it is something that doesn't matter much to me.

if i REALLLLLLY do not want to give in, I am very clear and firm when i say no.

but, i say no very little.

i think it is best to indulge them. they are only little once.
post #17 of 35
If it didn't bother you to hold the bowl, why does it bother your sister?

When I saw the title of this thread, my first thought was "No! Don't give in!"

But then I realized you were talking about this kind of stuff. Who cares? Hold the bowl!
I sure would with my 19 month old guy. Why not?

If you change your mind about something and you said no, you should say out loud that you changed your mind. That seems to me better modeling.

My feeling is that I don't want to say "no" about too much, because I don't want to have to seem too flexible. But there aren't that many things I care about. Don't touch the stove knobs, don't bite me or hit me, stay away from all of those electrical cords, those are the big "no" things in our house.
post #18 of 35
Another thing you could have done with the bowl incident is made it a game. Keep trying to put the bowl down in different places and ask him, "does the bowl go here?" Do it in siilly places, like the top of your head or anywhere that would get a giggle out of him.
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil
She felt I wasn't doing Lindy any favors by letting her think it was reasonable to make that demand of me. She thought Lindy ought to learn not to try to control what other people do when it doesn't directly concern her, and also ought to begin to learn the difference between a request that makes sense and one that doesn't.
I think that these lessons will come when she's old enough to understand some of your verbal reasoning with her. At this point you can completely explain things to her but she won't get it. Someday she will and then she probably wouldn't take issue with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil
I do think it's useful to make sure a child learns at some point what's considered normal, polite behavior in our society and what isn't, but I don't think I want to give Lindy the idea that those norms are rules that must never be violated. I think being able to decide for yourself how to act and think, rather than letting society decide for you, is one of the most valuable life skills you can acquire.
ITA with you on this part. Also, she will learn what is "normal" behavior by watching those around her and developing those same behaviors as she's developmentally ready for them.

Whenever I catch myself saying "no" to something I always have a quick inner dialogue with myself and ask "why?" It either makes me realize that my "no" is silly and I reconsider or that is legit for whatever reason and I try to explain it.

I don't think that children translate you changing your mind to a weak spot that they will try to manipulate. If anything it's better for them to see you work through things and change your mind (admitting that your first response was "wrong") than to have arbitrary decisions placed on them because you don't want them to think that you're a pushover and that whining/tantrums will get you to change your mind.

I also try to give my dd's some dialogue to go along with their feelings. If for example, you really couldn't take the push toy upstairs, I would probably say something like "I can tell you're really frustrated that we can't take it upstairs, but I'm afraid that you will fall down the stairs when you're pushing it. We'll keep it downstairs and play with it down here. Okay?" Then I try to followup with some sort of redirection so that it's not lingering. "Now would you like to help me get the mail?"

It sounds like you're doing a great job of being aware and open to respecting your dd as a person. She's a lucky girl!
post #20 of 35
I agree with much of what has been said. I pick my battles.

Sometimes, Lucy wants to take her stuffed animals into the bath. Instead, I will tell her that they cannot go into the bath but they CAN sit on the back of the toilet to watch and that she can pick from some other bath-friendly toys to take.

I find that giving her choices is the best way to avoid the negative "no".

I have really had to struggle with saying no if I don't really mean it. I step back and figure out if this is really something I care about. Usually, its not worth it.
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