Keep the Peace With Your Toddler and Still Get What You Want Her To Do

This is a writing sample from Scripted writer Kristi Tipps-Deutsch

THE ART OF DISTRACTION Distracting your curious and enthusiastic child is more than half the battle. The Art of Distraction is more important to children's development than just getting what you want. It offers them life skills, self-esteem, and people skills as well. It's important to remember that kids are born to be curious, and it's normal for them to want to turn over every rock and stone in life. You don't want to rob him of the joy of this, but you want to keep him safe. That's certainly understandable, but it's also the seed of defiance. How to distract him and maintain his love of life and integrity, and still be able to do your job? With the Art of Distraction, you simply replace one curiosity with another. This falls into step with Psychology Today's Dr. Susan Heitler's idea that, "Discipline need not equate with punishment. A better discipline definition is the art of getting kids to do what they need to do and not to do what they shouldn't be doing." TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE If your child is making a b-line toward an undesirable, call her name. Dr. Sears, of Ask Dr. Sears, The Trusted Resource for Parents Website, suggests using the child's name so that she pauses, giving you enough time to intervene. "When Lauren was younger, as soon as she would head for mischief we'd call out 'Lauren!' Hearing her name took her by surprise and caused her to momentarily forget her objective." Once you have her attention, ask her what she sees. As she tells you about the fireplace, walk with her over to the fire to see it through her eyes. Let her tell you about it, and then fill in your information: "Yes, fires are pretty, and they're really hot too. Ouch! Let's draw a picture of it so we don't get burned touching it." If anything else, put her in your lap and give the fire the respectful time it deserves. Perhaps then, she might be enticed by something you might have up your sleeve. ASK A QUESTION She will absolutely not wear the sweater you laid out for her. Even though it's supposed to get colder, a rumble is in the air, and you've got to leave in 10 minutes. Choice is incredibly important to her. Every time you offer a toddler an opportunity to choose, you build self-esteem. They have to be able to make choices and determine whether or not they're effective. "Okay, you don't have to wear that sweater. It's going to be really cold though, and I'm afraid you won't be warm enough. What do you think you can wear instead of the sweater to keep you really warm today?" You've given her dignity and empowered her with a choice. If you've strategically placed a couple of other sweater-like options around, she'll most likely pick one of those or an awful mixture of 2-3 shirts. If you can avoid a meltdown, she feels smarter and you can always put the sweater in her bag for later, then give up your pride and vanity, and let the child wear green, brown and orange shirts. You'll be at work on time! I NEED YOUR HELP Anything that requires a toddler to hold your hand is a no-go. They hate to be corralled. In a park with many bridges and fountains, parents see a cringe-worthy afternoon of defiance and meltdowns. Toddlers love to feel useful and in-charge. If they think that they are the one's calling the shots and helping you out, then they'll happily hold your hand, so you don't fall off the bridge or get hit by the bikes flying down the path. If they get the impression that you might be a little worried about your own safety, they'll practically grab your hand with glee. "Oh Michael, I don't want to get too close to the water. I'm afraid I'll fall in." You might have to ask him to hold your hand, so you'll feel safer, but chances are, he'll offer you his hand and tell you it will be okay. Dignity, curiosity, sense of purpose...check! Getting to hold his hand without a battle and making sure he's safe? See? Now you're becoming a pro! HATERS There will be plenty of people that say that you are lying to your child or putting them on. It might also be called guerilla negotiation skills, and seriously, whatever will get you through the day without an extra meltdown...well anyone can get behind that! No one's above trying to keep the peace...ask teenagers' parents. Will it work every time? No, it won't. But who can put a price on the quiet moments that may ensue? Sshhhh... enjoy it while you can.

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Kristi Tipps-Deutsch
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I am a 49-year-old writer, a veteran high school English teacher, and a wife and mother living and thriving in the breathtaking city of Colorado Springs, CO. I have endured and enjoyed a wide range of life experiences that provide me with unique perspectives on subjects like long-term marriage, parenting (birth to teens), teaching and education, recovery from alcoholism, drug abuse, and mental health issues, finding balance, and spiritual comfort and experiences. I am also talented and effective in the areas of the organization and execution of family travel, home care, interior and holiday...
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