One thing I have learned in dealing with willful toddlers is the power of giving choices. The best way to get a toddler or preschooler to do what you want is to offer a choice. Does this mean that you should let your little one run the roost and determine every move that is made? Absolutely not! But, if you use choices within your requests you can lead the task/ activity. You will allow your child to assert his/ her independence and she will feel like she had a say in determining what occurred.
How does that work? Let’s look at the examples below:
“Harper, it’s time for your bath. Do you want pink bubbles or purple?”
“Randi, let’s read a story. Do you want to read Llama llama first or Please Baby Please?”
“It’s time to go to Nana’s house. Do you want to ride in Mommy’s car or Daddy’s car?”
In all three scenarios, I have established what we are going to do. I did not ask, “Do you want to take a bath? Read a book? Or go to Nana’s house?” That leaves the door open for a child to say “NO!” I did; however, offer a choice in what would occur during the activity. The wonderful thing about choices is that you can almost always work a choice into anything you want a child to do. Just be sure that your choices are realistic and tangible. Don’t offer something that you can’t provide. If done correctly, you end up getting your way, and your child feels a sense of power and control over his environment at the same time.
The best part about offering choices is that you are giving the child an opportunity to communicate with you! With this simple task- you have practiced answering questions, practiced vocabulary, and much more. Before making your next request, add a choice and help build those language (and choice-making) skills!