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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 82: Choices

Problem: Your kid won't eat breakfast, or get dressed, or brush her teeth...again. She'd rather cry.

Solution: Choices. You already knew that. But specific kinds of choices. And a limited number of choices. Make the choosing part of the routine. Offer the choice at the same time each day. For instance, when my bundles of whine come up the stairs in the morning, we go into the bathroom together (the glamour of being a mom, let me tell you). I ask them, every morning, before they can come up with their own endless request list, if they'd like to brush their teeth upstairs or downstairs. Immediately, the brain cells that would otherwise be engaged thinking up illogical reasons to cry are now focused on one thing, upstairs or downstairs. They make a choice. Then right after they finish that, the next choice. They know it's coming because it's part of the routine. Pants or a skirt? And instead of dawdling over dots or stripes, they are focused. Do they want pants or a skirt. Breakfast time. I give them four choices for this. Oatmeal, grits, yogurt or applesauce. They don't have as much time to tantrum over not being able to eat in front of the TV because they have to concentrate on which food they want for breakfast. And then when they don't want it, all you have to do is tell them that they chose it, and tomorrow they can choose something different. That doesn't mean they'll be completely calm the whole time, but it helps. It keeps them in control while giving them boundaries that they need to keep level.

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