When children enter the toddler stage, they gain independence. This is hard for parents. This is hard for toddlers.
They don’t know what independence is, so they have to experiment.
“Do you want the bear or truck pajamas?’
“I want the monkey pajamas.”
“The monkey pajamas are dirty. Do you want the bear or truck pajamas?”
“I WANT THE MONKEY PAJAMAS!”
(Here’s how I know it is a ruse..)
“Ok, no problem, you don’t have to wear pajamas”
About 10 minutes later after a 5 minute tantrum with everyone ignoring, “I want the bear pajamas.”
“Do you want peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese?”
“Peanut butter and jelly”
I hand him the sandwich.
“I DON’T WANT any peanut butter on my SANDWICH!!”
“Ok, no problem, you don’t have to eat.”
Two minutes later, “I don’t want the sandwich TOGETHER! I WANT IT apart!”
“Well, here’s your sandwich, you can eat it or not.”
Another 2 minutes later, “I DON’T WANT THIS PART of the sandwich, it has a HOLE in it!”
“You don’t have to eat that part.”
(Here’s how I know it is a ruse…)
Ten minutes later, the sandwich is gone.
This type of ruse goes on day in and day out as it should. Children are exploring what it means to have an opinion, and opinions are great! We love them! But they also can’t control everything. I love to hear about what my children like and want but they don’t always get what they want.
The most important part of this back and forth is to remain calm and not give in during these tests. They want to know if they can ask or demand anything. If you want to eat inside, they will want to eat outside. It is also a way for children to learn how families work and how people negotiate. It is totally fine when your toddler is saying “I-don’t-like-it-that-way” to give them the option of doing it “that-way” next time (and since it is a ruse, they will actually want the opposite next time!!) but that the decision has already been made this time. It is important to stay calm and stay strong!