The one tenet of toddler-wrangling that I will stand by until the end of time 2 weeks ago

The one tenet of toddler-wrangling that I will stand by until the end of time

Most toddler parents have been in this position before: There's a meltdown on the horizon because a toddler is being asked, simply, to go somewhere.

Tell me you haven't been there. "Okay, no we're leaving the playground to go to the supermarket!" Aha, you naive little mite, toddler says absolutely no way. They – like Leo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street – are not leaving. And they're about to make you pay for the mere suggestion of it. Cue the meltdown: kicking, screaming, throwing things, clinging on to the legs of whomsoever is lucky enough to be staying put. It's TIRING. Not to mention mortifying, at times.

I've been there more times than I can count, and it forced me to come up with a solution that wouldn't quite solve the issue but would certainly help me in times of dire need.

I've made a habit, and applied it daily until it stuck, of sitting my two-year-old down, on my lap facing me, and asking her (with an embarrassingly forced sense of wonderment) if she would like to hear THE PLAN.

The plan, I then explain to her, involves in great detail, what we're doing that day to the best of my knowledge.

It might, on a given day, go something like this:

"First, we're going to get dressed in a lovely dress. Then, we're going to have a snack (name snack if applicable, the more detail the better). Then, I'm going to put you into the car and you can bring ANY toy you want. Then, we're going to the shops for bread and milk. Then we're going to school for a while and you can see your friends. Then mammy will collect you and we'll go to the park. And then it'll be time for a bath!"

Telling her this on a daily basis allows a few things to happen. Firstly, it lets her little mind accept and process what'll be happening that day, which is key – toddlers (children of all ages, too) appreciate routine and knowing what's going to happen so they aren't taken too much by surprise in what can be a very bewildering world. When you're that little, any amount of preparation for a day's events will be welcome.


It also allows me to bookend the elements she might not like with things that will appease her, for instance: She doesn't like getting dressed, but she does like to wear dresses, so I use the dress as a salve to make the idea of getting dressed sit a little easier. Likewise with the car – she won't necessarily jump for joy at being strapped to a seat for 30 minutes but she will look forward to the big exciting prospect of choosing a toy to bring, thus making the car sound better. And lastly, after school (which she doesn't adore) there's friends, mammy pick-ups and the park to look forward to.

And if, during the day, there are objections to any of the planned activities, sometimes all it takes is a reminder that "this was in our plan" for them to acquiesce. Should something in your plan have to be changed for whatever reason (like the day she was JAZZED about going to Claphandies class and we got there and I realised the previous week was the last of that term) you can big it up by announcing a "special" detour and promising a return to plan thereafter.

I'm absolutely not saying this method always works, but it does give a sense of control and choice and security to my daughter's tiny mind, and I know it calms her to know what to expect. It might help you, too!