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Avoid repeating yourself and get your toddler to follow through on what you’re asking

By, Arianne Haneine and Lauren Lazar


Do you find yourself repeating requests over and over? For example, please wash your hands,  it’s time for dinner (and again). Repeating yourself can often be counterproductive because you end up getting into a power struggle with your toddler. Maybe next time try incorporating this little tip to help you navigate those difficult times. 


Instead try the below: 

  1. Place the demand (It’s time to wash our hands for dinner). 

  2. Follow up with appropriate choices (you can use the bar of soap or hand wash) or (we can walk together to the sink or you can skip to the sink). 

  3. Follow up with a kind, compassionate tone of voice. Avoid using an upset or irritated tone. 

  4. Set a reminder 


Why this works: because children want to feel like they’re in control of their decisions. So, by allowing appropriate choices you’re giving them autonomy while staying in control. 


Why should you avoid a power struggle? Power struggles can lead to behavioural problems and patterns. This happens when children feel like they don’t have any autonomy or independence. Therefore, in their desire to feel autonomous they will try to win every power battle. In order to avoid this, keep in mind what the end goal is. Maybe you want your child to eat their dinner, wash their hands, clean up their toys. Whatever it is, it’s not about exercising your power/control it’s about getting to the end goal. How? By clearly stating what your request is, allowing for choices and also taking their perspective (step in their shoes and think what they might be feeling (are you validating their feelings, and allowing them to feel autonomous in order to fulfill your request or are you entering a power struggle?) 



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