America might have a policy of not negotiating, but I have to on a daily basis. My wee one is getting independent ideas and she knows what she wants and how it should be done. Most of the time it does correspond to with what the rest of us are doing , but boy when it doesn't..... it can be a battle of wills. Don't get me wrong , there are times that I love to sit back and watch how her mind works and see the world from her view. There are even times that she might be right and we could do it her way. But I'll get to that . Over the years I have had many an experience with strong willed tiny tots and figured out a few ways that we as parents can navigate and communicate with our wee ones when they think they know best.
Ive said (like a stuck record), one of my rules of thumb is communication. Parenting is give and take, between you and your child. It isn't a dictatorship no matter what they may think ! Your child is talking to you now, demanding stuff, time, direction etc and you are now able to convey what you need and want to them too. Ive found to get around the lost in translation moments and miscommunications that can lead to frustration (yours ) and its physical manifestations ie tantrums, (theirs ) both parties need to find common ground. One way to help this is to make them feel included. Yes, most of the time the decision has been made without them , but they don't need to know that especially at two yrs old. Im all for full disclosure but there is an age appropriation limit. If my wee one feels part of the process then she is happier to go along with the plan. It's not weakness to have an open relationship with your child. I know most parents feel like they are being pushed around and have to stand their ground. But I am of the thinking with a few tactics and positive manoeuvres , we feel less manipulated and prone to be stubborn.
One way of doing this is to plan ahead. Where ever, what ever you need to do and they need to be there or accompany you or in most case leave to or from there. I give a 5 minute warning. Not a warning as in , a stern tone .... But a 5 min heads up. Mummy needs to go to the shops , finish up what you're playing with and go get shoes or we need to leave the playground so choose one last thing to play on and then we are off. I am guilty of knowing the timings and the plans and then forcing it on my kids etc who were oblivious there was a finishing time or a need to go do something else option. In planting the seed, I have found my wee one is happier to go out the door or get her shoes on, or leave the play area as she has been included in the plan. Not dragged along.
This of course is the perfect scenario and it doesn't work every time no matter your pre-empted organisations. Like bath time or bed time. Two settings in our house that there are differences of opinion at times. So I adapt and adopt a few varied approaches. I use the wiggle room technique by , meeting some of her demands . Be it 10 stories to delay lights out, one more short cartoon that was requested. She brushes her teeth then Mummy does it or vice versa. But allowing her a wee bit of the control, I feel it helps her with confidence to steer her movements and I don't get as much push back. She settles better into the task . Most of the time , wee ones are just along for the ride. It's a fine balance for them to do as you say all of the time without them kicking off that they are not being heard or in control of themselves somewhat. But giving her this or that , I can side step the frustrations of her feeling ignored and carolled all the time.
Another option that I have found useful when she is just in one of those moods. And isn't playing ball even with my time management and suggestions is plain and simple Giving it to them straight. I call it the Mummy voice, it used to be the Nanny voice and can stop little ones and even bigger ones in their tracks. It's a firm authority tone that indicates limits have been met and all funny business is to cease and desist. Laying down the law. I say what I want done, when I want it done and I give them fair warning. Yes this time it's a stern one that in an allowed time frame what will happen if nothing happens. Ie count to or from your chosen number either forward of backward. Ive found that especially my wee one is smart and even though she is a cute as a button and butter would not melt etc, she knows when she has gone too far and Mummy means business. We sometimes give them too much lee way that they don't understand this or that . But I've found about this age , they are cleverer than they look and it's ok to set boundaries and rules to be observed.
There is a flip side to all to all the above positive assertiveness, and I have used all three of the below practises at times, two are wee cop outs which you just you have to do sometimes ( no judgements ) and one is a fun alternative.
The first is a Bit of Give and Take. I find my daughter springs a dictator moment or a period of self expression on me at the worst moments and you don't see them coming. Everyone has been guilty of the pleading phrase," if you do this then Ill do that. " Mine is usually as she is climbing out of the supermarket trolley like Houdini and making a break for the door ! Please just sit there for 5 secs and I'll give you this or that. It's ok to give in and say what ever you need to get the job done. Im all for her helping with said activity and getting the items etc. I like to turn everyday things in to a learning experience but when I'm trying to pack and pay and hers and my patience is thinning and I feel like I'm being watched , thats when the pleading starts. I have found it is when us parents are feeling stressed, scrutinised or under a time constraint that they smell blood in the water and act on impulse. My only advice is that although this is a valid and useful tactic to use , it shouldn't be the go to way to communicate with your wee one. We make a proverbial rod for our backs when we bargain with our kids. They need to learn that there are certain behaviours and activities that they just need to act accordingly in and there are expectations. I will always reward good behaviours with praise, or a little something of a treat here and there to encourage said actions or lack of actions. But I believe kids shouldn't expect it all the time.
The other temporary measure that gets used in these communications is a welcome tool sometimes and that is bribery. Plain and simple........ hand them the phone, food, toy, tablet, what ever it they have demanded so that you can achieve your goal too. You know they don't want to be or do what is needed. Circumstances aren't ideal. People are tired , hungry, bored. you name it but what ever it is needs to be done, like doctors visits or a long car ride. No matter all the forward planning there are still potholes you cant avoid and its ok , to anticipate them with bribery. We need an easy life for that moment in time. Just don't make a habit of it. Its not teaching your children, mutual respect and the act of learning to do what they are asked. Valuable skills to function in the world. We cant always get what we want when we want it. We need to manifest their skills to work with others. Heck going to pre school and school is for the first few years is learning to divide a youngsters time in to units where they are required to intake a work load with others at anothers ( teachers ) request. Be it play or listening , sitting still on a mat or outside play / lunch to a set time limit.
But to end on a high note, another negotiation skill with your wee ones and I touched on it at the beginning is to turn the tables and listen to them ( with in reason ) They do see their world differently, unclogged and a happy go lucky place. Don't we all want to escape back there for a bit if we could. As parents we can. So let them dictate the day or the activity . Don't rush , stay that extra half hour or go in the direction they want to walk. Explore the world through their eyes for a bit. I have on so many occasion , just stopped and listened to my charges in yester years, who had thought what ever it was through and did have a better idea and sometimes a much better solution to what ever. And if I could start seeing the wood from the trees agree with them. Its nice to let your wee one flex that independence muscle, give them the reins and foster confidence that their opinion matters. That you do hear them, they are in some semblance of control over their world. We want them to challenge the norm and think outside the box as young people so let them right from a young age have a few freedoms. Its fun to have a yes day.
By challenging authority, learning to work with others albeit be it just yourself to begin with , our wee ones are learning the valuable skills of interacting in society. That there is currency in compliance but also strength in knowing your will. Right now we are dealing with very narrow corridors of an Id personality ( all about them ) . And it can be hard and frustrating on everyones part to find common ground when you need to get things done. By trying everything from forward planning to maybe every so often just giving in we can have an open relationship with our wee ones that doesn't feel like a continuous battle of will. Resulting in them being seen to be behaving badly and us being bad parents. Neither of which is true ! Finding ways to side step tempers flaring and that not just us or them... we can communicate and listen and have it reciprocated. We have a much more relaxed and happier time.