On Saturday morning the toddler was dying to go to Home Depot with his dad. He was so excited. Being new potty-trained, I overheard my husband tell him,“you can’t go with me unless you go potty first”.
This made him melt. He ran around in circles screaming toddler-appropriate obscenities about how he was not going to the potty. I heard my husband calmly repeat:
“If you don’t go to the potty, you stay here with Mama while I go to Home Depot.”
This really ticked him off. Meanwhile in the other room I was overhearing the continued chaos. I was starting to feel equally as volatile because I really wanted him out of the house.
I try very hard not to undermine my husband’s authority with our kids. But on this day I stepped in to repeat what he had said. But I said it differently.
I got down to toddler height and said,
“First you go potty, and then you go to Home Depot with Papa”
Within 10 seconds the kid was peeing.
What did I do different that made all the difference? I flipped it.
I turned an empty threat into motivation. Instead of telling him what he couldn’t do, I emphasized what he could do. Just like that—the trip to Home Depot was now a reward he was working towards.
Tiny adjustments in our language make all the difference. We are talking about this and more in the mini-course on cooperation. It’s 5 days, with a one-minute video each day sent to your inbox. It’s free. Get it now!
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