The Counterterrorist's Guide to Toddler Negotiation

You don't deal with terrorists without years of CIA field training. Unless you're the parent of a toddler, in which case, you stroll into a Homeland situation completely unprepared and hope for the best. Here are some of the most important lessons I've learned from negotiating with my little Abu Booboo.

* Never negotiate with terrorists. Period. Like Saul Berenson from Homeland, only let them think you're negotiating.

* Agree to whatever they want, then secretly plot your way out of it. You can also say "no" and listen to them cry for three hours. But this is equally effective and much quieter. (Example: "You can sleep with us tonight. We'll pick you up from your bedroom later." Later, of course, they'll be asleep.)


* Let them choose between options that are not different. All they want is control. (Example: "Do you want broccoli and then clean up, or clean up and then broccoli?") Take advantage while they're still much dumber than you.

* Pretend that you and your toddler are battling a common enemy who isn't your spouse. (Example: "Your daycare teacher will put you back in the baby class if you keep going booboo in your pants and there's nothing I can do.")

* Always have another card to play. If they feel they have nothing to lose by crying when you turn their bedroom TV off, then threaten to close their door if they don't stop crying. If they continue to cry through the closed door, then threaten to cut off their air supply. (See "much dumber than you" above.)

* Reclaim the public-place card. Toddlers think they have the home-field terrorism advantage in a supermarket, since we don’t like when they call attention to us by screaming and crying. Turn this around by screaming and crying even louder than they do. This will embarrass the toddler and even endear you to other shoppers, who will recognize what's happening and secretly cheer you on.

What are some of your tips for negotiating with toddlers?

Image via eyeliam/Flickr

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