Toddlers: Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say
Two-year-olds have many ways of testing their parents. My husband and I handle on average about two tantrums per day with our son (most are due to the need of a nap). The ones I usually handle alone are in a store because I have dared to go out with him and my 6 month old daughter.
One such tantrum happened today in a store. My son wouldn’t stay by the stroller with me as I had asked him to do, so I told him that if he didn’t stay by me we would have to leave. He strayed off again and got a second warning. The third time I gathered him up and told him we were going home – and we did. Of course he cried on the way out and people stared, but my son learned that I meant what I said and that I was going to go through with my warning.
It’s very tempting to threaten and threaten and not follow through because I need to get shopping done or finish whatever I’m doing, but I know it’s more important to follow through with my threat because my children will learn that I mean what I say. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, whether it’s leave a store or take away a privilege or toy for a while as a punishment, your child will learn that you aren’t going to actually do what you say you’re going to do. So, why would he or she obey you when you’re full of empty threats?
As inconvenient and frustrating as it is to leave a store in the middle of something, you need to teach your child that you will do what you say. It should only take a few times before your child realizes that you will really follow through and then they will start to listen so that they don’t lose a privilege or have to leave a store.
Remember, leaving somewhere with a screaming, crying toddler is not fun but, despite the many stares, you have to remind yourself that this is preventing future behavior problems and is really best for your future sanity!