Monday, July 25, 2011

Semi-Truths I Tell My Son To Get Him To Behave

At three years old, my son has a mind of his own. He’s not the little baby I used to be able to stick in a carrier and cart along everywhere I went. I can’t stick him in a stroller anymore with a bottle while I run errands. Now, he has opinions. Now, he wants a say in things. Now, he doesn’t want to listen.

So what do I do to get my son to behave when the Death Stare or The Eerie Silence doesn’t work?

I lie. Sort of.

I don’t say things like, “If you don’t [fill in the blank], the monster’s gonna get you!” or “If you don’t stop doing that, I’m gonna give you away!” – I’m not cruel! Instead, I tell him the truth... with a little 'confusion' mixed in.

Screaming & Crying In A Store

My Monkey likes to do this when we bypass any toys, candy, books, and cartoon DVDs. I used to say, “Calm down! There’s no need to cry!” or “You can’t have that! You already have a lot of toys at home!” That does nothing. Now I say vague things like:

  • “I know you want to see the [fill in the blank], but first let’s go get [fill in the blank], okay?
  • “It’s okay to cry, I know you want to see [fill in the blank]. Maybe sometime soon we can go look at it, okay?”

He then calms down because, to him, it sounds like we’re going back. (Ha ha, fooled you!) In the meantime, I push him in the cart around the store, finish my shopping - avoiding the trigger items – and by the time he remembers he wants to see stuff, we’re in the car. BRILL!


Now this one, this one could get dangerous. It takes something else to get my kid to stop dead in his tracks if my loud, firm voice (tinged with borderline hysteria) doesn’t do the job.

I know I’m not the only mother out there who has a child who believes it’s their God given destiny to run mindlessly into a busy road or whatever. I also know that I’m not the only parent out there who's screamed at the back of their child’s head saying “Come back here, now!” while the kid has the nerve to laugh all the way to China!

So I’ve gotten creative. Instead of your typical, “If you don’t get over here right now, you’re gonna get it!” or “Come back here or I’m gonna tell Daddy!” I say, in a super excited, high-pitched voice:

  • Ooooh! Look what I found!
  • Monkey! Is that [specify favorite person or thing here] over there! Come here! See?
  • I think I have a [specify child’s favorite candy here] in my bag, want to look for it together?

When he turns around and comes back, we look for whatever it is we’re supposed to look for, and when we don’t find it, I say, “Oh well. Maybe next time we’ll find it, right?”

Works. Like. A. Charm.

Now, did I lie to him in any of these scenarios? Technically, no. Will this kind of thing work forever? Most definitely not. But until the moment he figures out my brilliant scheme, I will use this method of confusing truths to 'help' him behave. Not because *ahem* it makes my life easier, but it keeps an easy and/or safe situation from turning into a complicated one. We all win!

Are you a parent who uses the semi-truth method, too? Well then, kindred spirit! Feel free to share your ‘technique’ because sharing is caring!

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