Mind Tricks Are the Smart Parent's Way to Raise a Toddler

toddler jediAh toddlers and their crazy, crazy ways. How do you keep them from bodily harm without losing your sanity? I just came across this handy list of suggestions for surviving the holidays with a toddler by pediatrician and author Harvey Karp. Apparently the key to raising a toddler is to play Jedi mind tricks on them.

Is that ever okay? Isn't that kind of evil and manipulative? Hell no! The "direct" approach to parenting assumes your toddler is a rational person. But toddlers are totally IRRATIONAL. They're wack-o little sociopaths. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. I'm just saying, these parenting tactics can save you approximately three years of bitter frustration and high blood pressure. Read on for a few examples.


So what do you do if your child starts screaming and demanding candy at the grocery store? Some would say just ignore your child and continue shopping. Others say you should march right out of the store and let them scream in the car until it's over. But Dr. Karp recommends repeating the toddler's words back to them, using the same exact language.

"WANT! CANDY! NOW! WANT IT!" The idea is that you're showing your toddler you understand what they're trying to tell you. And once you nail that, the kid will calm down and you can distract them into forgetting all about the candy. Whoa, it never occurred to me to try that, but it's so crazy, it just might work! If you can get over the embarrassment of talking toddlerese in public.

What about when you're in a battle of wills, trying to get your toddler to do something they don't want to do? Make 'em laugh. Dr. Karp says to clown around, doing what you want the toddler to do, but in the wrong way. The kid laughs, and then says, "No, like this!" Ha. Fooled again, little tyke. Another point for Team Mom.

Or there's the one where you "let" your toddler overhear you gossiping about them. "Did you see Owen sharing his toys with Maya? Wow, I was so impressed! I hope he remembers to take turns when his cousins come over!" you say to the nearest stuffed animal. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Say no more. Supposedly this indirectly encourages good behavior without making your kid feel like they're being told what to do. Will it work? I don't know -- that one I'm a little skeptical of, but it's worth trying. May the force be with you, toddler parents.

Do you think it's okay to play mind tricks on your toddler, or do you prefer a more direct approach?

Image via miguelb/Flickr

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