Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Toddler's Ultimate Weapon: Cuteness

I have written before about my child's ability to fight everything from sleep, to food, to diaper changes.  It's no secret that have resorted to using questionable genius tactics in my desperate attempt to get her to sit still.  Today's story brings to light a new weapon that I have recently had to face.  This weapon is like no other.

In the war against children parenting, there are few weapons that can actually stop you from accomplishing your goals.  Most of the time, simple steps can overcome the basic toddler combat philosophies.  But not this time.

Phase One of Operation: "Restrain Toddler" involves combat against physical efforts.  The toddler's weapons are basically just a clever set of evasive tactics that drive you crazy.  Once they are fully mobile, they just start to run away.  Physical combat is easy to contend with.  You are ten times their size!  If you can't convince them that they need to sit still for clothes changing, diaper changing, eating, fingernail cutting, etc, you can simply hold them in place with all the power of adulthood on your side.  It may mean that you have to actually chase down your child or learn how to trap them with your legs while you dress them with your hands.  But the bottom line is, it can be done.

Once your toddler learns that he or she can be dominated physically, they move on to more sinister tactics.  Your toddler will realize that they can be restrained physically.  It's evolution.  They change and adapt.  And you should be very worried because the next part of the battle is much more difficult to win.

This look will be made behind your back when your toddler moves to Phase Two.
In Phase Two of Operation: "Restrain Toddler", you will encounter their repeated attempts to emotionally manipulate you with cuteness.  When your toddler decides that physical maneuvers alone are not working, they will attempt to use their cuteness to distract you from your mission.  It starts off small, and usually involves naming things in the room.  When you want them to do something or pick something up, they just start pointing to random things in the room and naming them, "Book!" "Chair!" "Cat!" and so on.  This is annoying, but cute.  You let them impress you secretly, but you must stay focused outwardly.  If you cave now, the toddler wins, and you can never regain control.  They want you to start praising them in hopes that you will forget about the mission.  Keep them focused on the desired outcome by redirecting.

When the toddler is no longer able to wow you with their knowledge of inanimate objects in the room, they start asking for items that meet a physical need.  When you try to get them to sleep, they will ask for a snack.  If that doesn't work, they will ask for juice.  If not juice, then milk.  And they won't yell for it.  No no, they will ask in the most adorable way possible, puppy eyes and everything! They are attempting to manipulate your desire to meet their physical needs.  To combat this, simple logic will work.  Before bedtime, make sure they have had a snack and juice and/or milk.  That way, you can simply reply, "You already had your _________, remember?" and move on with your bedtime routine.  They have not advanced enough to combat against logic.  That happens in the teenage years. 

When your toddler comes to terms with the fact that appealing to your desire to meet their physical needs does not work, they will try something so manipulative that even the best parents crack under the pressure.  Last night, after I had placed my little one into her crib, she looked up at me with sad blue eyes and said, "I hug you."  I knew she just wanted me to pick her back up out of her crib.  I knew she just wanted to delay her slumber a few seconds longer.  I knew all of this!  But I hugged her anyway.  I will never turn away hugs.  You only get so many when they're this little.


  1. Sorry, I agree with her - you were probably way wrong! lol...That look IS priceless!

  2. Thanks Bruce! And, even though it's not my kid in the picture, I think mine makes that look behind my back all the time...

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