How do you get through the ‘I Want’ phase?
I have no idea. I mean, if it’s not shoes or boots, it’s handbags. If it’s not handbags, it’s jackets. If it’s not jackets, it’s tops. And if it’s not tops… …wait a second, you’re talking about your kid’s ‘I Want’ phase rather than your wife’s, aren’t you?
You are? Perfect, because while I can offer absolutely no assistance about stopping a lady’s wants from finding their way onto your credit card bill, I can serve up a few ideas about how to combat a headstrong toddler on an ‘I Want’ rampage.
First thing’s first, however. If you are sleep deprived or hungover, then quit reading this article and give your little one whatever they’re asking for. I say this, because you need a fast-moving brain and tip-top energy levels to outwit a toddler who has his or her eyes on a specific prize. Thus, if you’re not functioning at full capacity, you are pretty much doomed to failure.
Okay, now we’ve whittled ourselves down to an elite, physically and mentally sharp band, let’s begin the Father-Hood.co.uk ‘I Want’ training programme, with the first step being acceptance.
This is acceptance from you, rather than your kid. It’s not an easy concept for an alpha parent to get their head around, but it works like so.
- 1. You accept that if your kid wants something you are not going to get away with a straight “no” and are going to have to give them something.
- 2. You accept that if your kid wants something you are not going to get away with a straight “no” and are going to have to give them something.
- 3. You accept that if your kid wants something you are not going to get away with a straight “no” and are going to have to give them something.
Got that? Fantastic, then let’s move onto the second and final step.
Step two is a lot of fun, because you get to strap your kid into a chair and put probes on their skull. Just kidding. It’s a lot of fun, because it’s the parenting version of Groundhog Day. What I mean by this is: every day you wake up and find yourself in the same situation (i.e. facing up to a toddler who wants something you don’t want them to have), and every day you learn from your mistakes and get closer to your end goal. Which is? Kissing the girl and getting the hell out of Punxsutawney. No, wait, that’s the plot of the Groundhog Day film. Your goal is to get your toddler to want what you want them to want.
Ooh, sounds exciting. So how do you do this? Simple. You buy my book and discover the answer in the third paragraph of p73. Only joking (not about the book, buy it). After asking my son lots of questions and trying out loads of different strategies, I can exclusively reveal that the three things that consistently work are:
Warning: this option isn’t for the lazy or unprepared. It involves me feng shui-ing a room, table or toy box, so that the food that’s bad for him and the toys and games I detest are well-hidden and stuff I want my son to eat/book I want him to read/paint I want him to play with/dancing car that doesn’t have a cheesy pop soundtrack catches his eye and screams “me, me, me”.
Loaded multiple choice questions
Have I noticed the fact that my son always chooses the third option when faced with a three-pronged multiple choice query? You bet I have, and you bet I am using it to my advantage by always making the TV show I want him to watch (and want to watch myself) the third option when he demands to watch TV.
Asking what day it is
Some people will call this concept defeatist, but I couldn’t care less. I live in the real world, and in the real world of parenting toddlers compromises have to be made. Compromises like… …letting my son do the things he wants to do on certain days. For example:
- He CAN watch a movie on a Sunday morning, but he CANNOT sit in front of the TV for that long on any other day of the week.
- He CAN use the big shower after football on a Saturday, but CANNOT use it at any other time in the week.
- The little man CAN pretend to drive daddy’s car after nursery on a Tuesday, but he CANNOT do it on any other day.
But, but… …Doesn’t my son just ignore these rules and bleat on about wanting to do these things every single day? He did for the first couple of weeks, but now he knows that if he does that then he won’t get the treat at all. As a result, he’s more than happy to go with our “only on this day” schedule.
And that’s all I have. Those are my strategies for getting through the ‘I Want’ phase. If they work for you, please let me know by commenting below. If they don’t, please don’t despair. Stay positive, keep asking questions and continue trying to find new ways of outsmarting your offspring.
Until next time…