My almost 3 year old has a new favorite phrase.
"I dont wanna."
Usually I dont care. If she doesnt want to get dressed, she doesnt have to. If she doesnt want to put on shoes, thats fine. If she doesnt want to eat, that is ok too, she can eat later.... but sometimes it is important and she doesnt understand it.
So of course I want to tie her up and feed her to the alligators in the bayou by my house.
Things I have tried:
"Usually it is ok if you dont want to but this is important so please do XXX because if you do it will be over and you can move on to things that you DO want to do"
"Please do this, I know that you dont want to and it is ok but you have to do it anyways because of XXX reason"
"Why dont you want to do it?" I try to see if there is a real reason, and go from there... if there is not I say "well I understand your reason but sometimes there are things that we must do and this is one of them".
threatening the above mentioned giant lizards... ok maybe I havent tried it but I wanted to.
I would say that 50% of the time she does things, the other 50 she doesnt. These are things liek getting in her carseat. She will FIGHT and cry and scream but we have to do it. I will not let her in a car without one. It is not uncomfortable and usually she is fine, but when she doesnt want to leave a place or when she is just in a "mood" there is no stopping the "i dont wannas" followed by tantrums. She will hold her breath until she turns colors and I tell her to breathe and she will breathe just to say "I dont wanna". It really is almost a game to her. So I tend to ignore those and she is fine after a while because she HAS to breathe.
I do not believe in rewards. I do not believe in "Julie is doing it so why dont you".
Any suggestions? I want to be gentle when making her do what we need and certainly picking my battles but it is getting old.
She has a huge vocab for her age and will try to barter and negotiate, she will refuse and tell me that she doesnt have to for XXX reason. It isnt as simple as "NO!!" and that is it.
oh and this has been going on for around 4 months now. i thought it was a phase but its a long one it seems.
Yep, my 5 year old still does this sometimes. I think that at age 3, I wanted to put each child out on the curb with a sign saying "free to good home" at least once! They have such definite wants and so little ability to see other perspectives.
Things that helped my kids:
1. Lots and lots of transition time. I did the 5-3-1 method, as in "OK, 5 minutes until we need to go." "3 minutes until we need to go." "1 more minute. You have time to do one last thing. Do you want to go down the slide or the fire pole?"
2. Leave 10 minutes before you think you need to. This did two things for me. First, it reduced my stress level. Second, it meant my kids had a bit more energy to put into the transition.
3. Give them something to look forward to. It's not quite the same as a reward, but reserving a snack or a toy for the car ride home can sometimes quell a tantrum. "When you're all buckled in, then we can turn the music on" works sometimes. (OK, it's a bribe, but when I'm much more invested in what my kids need to do, I'm OK with that!) Sometimes it's just "Let's go tell Daddy what we saw at the park today!"
4. Reflecting back what she says with no further comment. "Oh, you really don't want to leave."
5. Not trying to debate or argue the point if there is no debate. This was the hardest for me. I really wanted to convince them. But they didn't want to be convinced. And my dd, like yours, could argue circles around me very early on. So, I try to keep my mantra "It's hard to leave. I know you want to stay. It's time to go." or "You don't want to do chores now. It's time for chores." Repeat as needed.
Perhaps turn the things she doesn't want to do into a game. Let's see how fast you can get to your carseat, count how long it takes mommy to buckle you in. See how many toys you can throw into the toybox, i'll brush your teeth then you brush mine, etc. I also agree with the above poster, don't debate
I sometimes lay on the empathy...real thick.
"I know, it's so hard to leave, isn't it?" go on to talk about all the great things that happened, how you feel about those being over now, throw in a lesson on things coming to an end, but that meaning that new things are starting, talk about all the great things that will happen next and ask if they need x, y, or z for the transition to get their minds off things.
Sometimes it helps to acknowlege that they don't want to do whatever, then distract.
Turning it into a race or game, or giving them a job can sometimes help.
Sometimes it's just hard.
In addition to all of the great advice so far, an important step for me was to really get my head into a zen and emotionally calm frame of mind. Outward calm is good, but kids are quite brilliant at reading your internal barometer too.
I was also pretty much calm with a purpose. I have seen parents who are ONLY calm without pointing the child in any direction, and the child becomes more hysterical because the parent seems disconnected to the child's conflict. It would be infuriating if you were in the grip of an emotional storm because you didn't want to ride in a carseat, and nobody was actually re-iterating the boundaries, but simply stared at you in silence. I've seen that really freak children out.
So I tended to be very firm and specific about what was going to happen next ie. "When you calm down you will get in the car seat and I will drive us home" while also keeping my own energy calm and matter of fact. No negotiations, no tantrum of my own. Ds calmed down much faster when he saw me stay calm and also understood that a situation was not negotiable.
I will say that none of this would work for a fear based tantrum, but that isn't what you seem to be talking about here.
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