We've all been there. Our kids are dead set on going to Chuck E. Cheese's, seeing the latest Pixar movie for the third time, or going to a park on the other side of town 15 minutes before dinnertime, and you just flat out don't want to do it. As much as we want to make our children happy and our own lives more peaceful because of that happiness, there's only so much a parent can give.
Unfortunately, kids aren't great at taking a hard "no" without a little — or more likely a lot of — push back. They're also exceptionally skilled at sticking to their guns, regardless of how many fun alternatives you try to convince them of in a superupbeat voice. It's one of the great parenting paradoxes: we want to keep our kids content and out of tantrum mode, but we also don't want to give in to their every whim and desire. And, godd*mn it, a mom can only go to Chuck E. Cheese's so many times without losing her mind.
If your kid has a plan that you just can't wrap your head around, don't despair. There are ways to change their perspective and get them to see things from yours. We're not saying these tactics are foolproof — things will occasionally end in tears even if used correctly — but they could get you out of going to a trampoline park when you really want to go to a wine tasting (or just sit on the couch and catch up on Bravo). Here are four ways to flip the script on your kid. Start with one, and work your way down the list as needed.
- Change the conversation. First up, simply try to get your kid's mind on something else, hoping they'll forget what they're asking you to do. This is surprisingly effective with younger children and their underdeveloped brains. The strategy works best when conversation is changed to something your child gets really excited about like Elena of Avalor, L.O.L. Dolls, or Batman.
- Distraction. Talk not working? Move on to action. Suggest a short activity that your child really likes that you don't have to be overly involved in, like colouring, Play-Doh, or, if you're really desperate, extra screen time. The key is to suggest something they'll get really focussed on long enough to forget about their initial request.
- Bargaining. They still won't let it go? It's time for some negotiation. Take their starting point and give them one of your own ("You want to go to roller skating; I was thinking we'd finish your homework"). From there, compromising on an activity that you both might enjoy sounds a lot better to everyone.
- Putting your foot down. At this point, you're going to have to play the "I'm in charge" card. No child likes to hear the because-I-said-so argument, but we all have to employ it at times, and this might be one of them. Yes, kicking, screaming, and major meltdowns will most likely ensue, but sometimes that's the price a parent has to pay to (eventually) have some peace.