I do not negotiate with toddlers. I repeat, I do not negotiate with toddlers. I don't know why I am repeating it to myself because quite clearly I do.
Quite clearly the tempestuous three year old has got me wrapped around his little finger and the one year old isn't far behind.
Everyone talks about the terrible twos but I find the testing threes a much bigger challenge. With a greater and wittier vocabulary, my big boy is able to negotiate deals.
A deal for putting his coat on, a deal for taking his coat off. A deal for getting in the car nicely, a deal for holding on to the trolley. A deal for finishing his tea all ending in a reward for what is undoubtedly, and purposely bad behaviour.
At times he can be get so frustrated, so insolent, so stubborn. Instead of hysterical temper tantrums and beating the floor with his hands and feet, we now get "Mama, you are making me very cross, I'm angry with you." Charming! Angry for making him eat a delicious meal, angry that I sacrificed a portion of my meal the previous night.
It's so easy to say don't give in. But after 6 minutes of persistent high pitched moaning from a one year old who cannot talk, hanging off the fridge door, I cave and reward his determination with a single chocolate button. Clever boy.
Is it wrong to pick your battles? Save zero tolerance for the big issues like refusing to go to pre school?
I don't recall that at the age of three, I answered back. After a happy 10 minutes of playing with the fridge magnets, I offer to play another game on the basis that he tidies the magnets back into the jar. After some cajoling and requests for my help his response is "I've asked YOU three times to tidy up!" As if it is my responsibility to clear up the devastation trail he leaves behind him.
The house regularly resembles a bomb site. Again he has an answer for it. "Never mind Mama, you can put it all away can't you?" Of course he is, in fact right, yes I can perfectly well run around after them all day long but what manners and appreciation of responsibilities does that instil in them?
Our generation seems to have a more open family society, one that I encourage in our home. Fantastic our son feels he can debate and challenge us but not on the subject of whether he should have a bath tonight. Embracing their individuality, imagination and encouraging them to form their own opinions is best parent practise but leads to a power struggle in our house.
How many times have you overheard or said yourself "I am the grown up" or "I am your mother, you do not talk to me like that."?
Or is it just me?!
Back chat is not something I had expected at such a tender age, and in public it is so embarrassing! I try to rationalise the situation and explain he has a choice to make but often, when surrounded by angelic children not grabbing items off the supermarket conveyor belt, the choice is mine whether to ignore the behaviour and accept the tuts and smirks from those around me, or stick to my guns. 90% of the time the control stays with the crafty toddler.
The best we have had is a demonstrator style chant. "I want my milk, I like it hot. I want my milk, I like it hot"! All he needed was a placard board and I would have thought he was demanding world peace.
Demanding being the operative word.
Fingers crossed it's just a phase, or the stakes at the negotiating table are only going to get higher!
What do your little ones do to get their own way?!