A Facebook Fan asked: How do I stop living in a world of ultimatums? 2 toddlers – 3.5 and 2 – and we will try to transition to something, or ask them to do something – once, twice…. we could ask a hundred times – and it seems the only time we get any action is when it comes with an ultimatum – “please do *x* or you’re going to your room”. “you can either do *x* or you can go sit in your room”. etc, etc…. I’m so tired of the threats and ultimatums, and I feel like we’re stuck in this negative loop, and we don’t know how to get out of it…. suggestions welcome!!
Few things to point out here. As soon as you find yourself asking more than 1-2 times (or more for a toddler who needs more prompting), you’re accidentally conditioning your kids to ignore you. Sounds crazy, but that’s what’s accidentally happening. In their minds, when they don’t get a consequence, or don’t get one until after several warnings, you have inadvertently trained them to wait it out… and ignore you… until you escalate your anger. It is best to look at every command or request as a teachable moment for them. Tell them you want their eyes on yours, tell them what you want, make them repeat it back, and tie a consequence it to it. If they’re looking at you, and can repeat back what you say, they’re more likely to follow through. This is true for toddlers and teens alike.
Another thing to ask yourself is how many transitions can we expect from a toddler? Our lives are busier and there’s more things squished into shorter time frames. This makes for more transitions than say twenty or thirty years ago. These days, we see more and more toddlers being referred for tantrums, meltdowns, anger outbursts (all of which are developmentally normal), but the numbers are climbing. That means we’re more stressed and hurried. We’re expecting too much from what these young kids can developmentally digest. So, whenever possible, cut transitions out. Do less. Stay in one place more. Also, there’s a strong contagion effect going on here. We’re very stressed. Toddlers pick it up from our faces, pressured speech, rushed actions. It builds and can lead to a toddler (for no apparent reason) having a meltdown as soon as you want to get them out the door or into the car. Keep calm. Breathe. Enjoy simpler, smaller moments. Stop worrying and take the long-term view. Things will work out great.
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