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Is it ok to 'force' a toddler to do something eg get dressed?

(37 Posts)
76burntbeans Wed 06-Jan-16 09:34:42

DS is 21 months and reasonably cooperative but obviously sometimes refuses nappy changes, getting dressed, getting in the pram and what have you. I found myself wheedling and negotiating with him but this takes ages and he gives me the run around and sometimes we we don't have time for it.

I'm trying the Janet Lansbury approach of 'would you like to do xyz or would you like mummy to do it for you?' Then gently but firmly getting hm dressed or whatever if he doesn't do it himself, but I feel like I'm saying ' do it right now or I will force you' as that's what it amounts to. I don't feel right about physically making him but on the other hand I don't think it's right to give him too much 'control' (if that's the right word) either. Basically I'm conflicted and curious if other people do it? If not, how do you get stuff done? I'm sure they never physically make him do anything at nursery, so it must be possible. I just dont know how.

lenibose Wed 06-Jan-16 09:40:39

Yes I would 'force' it. Some things like getting dressed, brushing teeth are non negotiable. I am happy to offer the option you suggest, but I don't like getting into bargaining matches with irrational little people. That said, I am a fairly strict mum. With getting dressed I found that he hated having something put over his head. So I would pre-empt and say. Ok t shirt first, over the head, left hand and then right hand. What a clever boy. And it also taught him his left from his right. I am also not averse to bribery. So I would do the following: offer an option, then if refusal, get him dressed but keeping a cheerful tone, and finally at the end saying, if you do it without a fuss tomorrow you can have a small treat. Then 5 days into getting dressed without too much fuss and getting a treat you can slowly withdraw it.

PennyHasNoSurname Wed 06-Jan-16 09:42:21

Certain things are non negotiable. I would just lift and clip them in thw buggy, being forceful if needed. If he is going in the buggy its because we need to leave. Faffing and negotiating would make me late.

Getting dressed, can you make it a race? Get a big egg timer and "bet you cant get dressed before the timer runs out quick quick!!"

Usually kids know who they can "play" - maybe if he is refusing something just say "ok, so we wont do X" and walk away.

AuntieStella Wed 06-Jan-16 09:45:43

Yes, I would force it.

The spin off though is that you only use that wording when it actually matters that something is done promptly. There are plenty of other occasions where the DC can exercise choice.

Piffpaffpoff Wed 06-Jan-16 09:47:00

I'm with lenibose on this - certain things are non-negotiable. He needs to be dressed, therefore if he won't co-operate then you do it for him. I used to have to pin my two down to brush their teeth - I didn't like it, they certainly didn't like it, but their teeth had to be brushed so until they were willing to sit nicely and have it done then that's how we had to do it. (I'm a bit strict though)

hairylittlegoblin Wed 06-Jan-16 09:52:06

Absolutely agree with other posters. One of my pet hates is listening to parents negotiate and discuss and explain at length why it would be better for Johnny to climb into the buggy/hold hands to cross the road/put their shoes on.

IMO (and I might get flamed for this) life is too short to spend long periods discussing essential tasks with toddlers. Do it or mummy does it. And repeat.

hairylittlegoblin Wed 06-Jan-16 09:55:48

And at nursery I think a lot of it comes down to peer pressure - when all the other kids have their coats on and are going out to play it's suddenly a more attractive idea than when mummy says 'Put your coat on so we can go to tesco.'

LemonBreeland Wed 06-Jan-16 09:57:56

Of course it's fine to make him get dressed. He is 1. They are not massively cooperative at that age and still a baby.

ByThePrickingOfMyThumbs Wed 06-Jan-16 09:58:27

There are certain things I won't negotiate about. DD went through a phase of loathing her car seat. Tough, frankly. If we were going out in the car, she needed to be strapped in. So yes, I did force her. Ditto the buggy if we were somewhere unsuitable for toddler walking like alongside a busy road.

Boosiehs Wed 06-Jan-16 10:00:46

Mine was averse to tooth brushing until he got a minions toothbrush for Christmas. Now he wants to brush all the time.

MrsJayy Wed 06-Jan-16 10:03:17

I knew somebody who wouldnt go out or was late because her children ruled her poor woman got the fright of her life when 1 of them started school and they wouldnt get dressed etc, somethings just need to be done imo

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Jan-16 10:04:23

Oh god yes I'd force it in a cheerful manner, no problem.

I really don't have time for namby pamby negotiating with toddlers, particularly when you have other kids to get to school for example.

How would it be fair for older kids to be repeatedly late for school, because Mum is negotiating with little Timmy about getting dressed or sitting in his buggy?

Life isn't like that.

Sidge Wed 06-Jan-16 10:06:29

Yes you can 'force' your toddler to do something, and as a parent that's your job really. Many things are non-negotiable - teeth brushing, getting dressed, wearing shoes out of the house, going to bed. It's part of growing up. You can choose your battles but IMO parents who give their very young children all the choices and all the power are weak and ineffectual. You are the adult and sometimes what you say, goes.

Choices can be important in some contexts - eg do you want to wear the red T-shirt or the blue one? But saying "do you want to get dressed now?" can be less effective than saying "it's time to get dressed now, so we can go to the park/nursery/shop".

StrumpersPlunkett Wed 06-Jan-16 10:06:38

Totally agree with other posters. The language you are using us emotive but the reality is that sometime things just need to happen and if manhandling a 3 year old into socks is what is required then so be it.

SavoyCabbage Wed 06-Jan-16 10:13:21

I've a friend who negotiates everything with her three year old. I find it exhausting and I think he does too. He's got too much responsibility. It takes us 15 minutes just to leave the house.
Do you want to go to this park or that park?
Oh, you don't want to put your coat on?
Will you wear the long sleeved tshirt with the dog on and your green jumper then?
Shall we take the blue cup? The yellow one us in the dishwasher but we can take the blue one. Thomas is blue. If you take the blue cup you can watch Thomas before we go.
You want watermelon? We don't have watermelon but we can stop on the way

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Wed 06-Jan-16 10:13:25

Of course you can. If you let them think they are in charge always then you are going to be in for a hell of a shock when they start school.

I'm guessing you don't actually have anywhere to be - school run for an older child/work etc?

MrsJayy Wed 06-Jan-16 10:24:28

savoycabbage there is so many words being said to that 3yrold i bet he glazes over grin

Saxons Wed 06-Jan-16 10:26:12

Can you be silly/make it into a game? We get loads done that way

Borninthe60s Wed 06-Jan-16 10:27:37

I'd do same as you but give five minutes warning. Ie. We are going to get dressed alter breakfast, mummy will help or you can do it yourself.

Getting in pushchair...we are going out when we've got our coats and shoes on. Mummy would like you to get into the pushchair when you're ready.

Lots of praise too.

76burntbeans Wed 06-Jan-16 10:30:01

Thanks everyone.

I am starting to understand that I have to take charge, its not something that comes naturally to me and I feel a bit uneasy about being so much bigger etc.

Sige you are right though, I was feeling weak and ineffectual! And negotiating with an almost 2 year old is a fool's errand. It's no good for either of us if I'm not in charge.

I've not had much any experience with toddlers and no family around to guide me, so just curious about what other people do.

Feeling more confident about it now.

MrsJayy Wed 06-Jan-16 10:34:08

Its effective parenting not forcing think about it like that

WorraLiberty Wed 06-Jan-16 10:36:34

Ahh that's good to hear OP.

If it makes you feel any better, my experience is that kids tend to feel more secure with firm boundaries/routines in place.

That's not to say they'll always like them, but I do think they feel more secure when they know the parent is in charge.

Iwantakitchen Wed 06-Jan-16 10:41:46

There are other methods - get a egg timer and give him five minutes, make it a race against the clock, or against you if you both get dressed at the same time. Bribery works -if you put on your clothes now you can watch an episode of hey doggy or whatever he likes. Make badges for 'star of the day' or whatever and give it to him when he listens to you.

76burntbeans Wed 06-Jan-16 10:43:45

alibabs I have to be at work 3 days a week, that's partly what prompted me to get a handle on things.

savoycabbage (I bloody love Savoy cabbage btw, with chopped up sausages, cream and garlic, current favourite dinner) I could see me heading in that direction and knew I needed to put a stop to it. Don't want to be that parent.

borninthe60s I do try to give him plenty of notice and talk about what we're doing next etc.

It has improved how cooperative he is and he's starting to get that when I say that phrase I mean business.

BertieBotts Wed 06-Jan-16 10:46:28

Yes it's fine smile Don't worry! A better way than a choice with this (DS used to hate getting dressed too) is to just matter of factly and cheerfully state "Time to get dressed!" and then just keep talking to them about random shit while you manipulate their arms and legs into the clothes.

Or sometimes it helps to say "Which t-shirt shall we wear today?" as it's a closed choice but if you know from experience they will just yell "NO!!" and not actually make a choice then forget that, and just distract them, or make it into a game. "Oh no! I've lost your foot! Where is it?! Help! Oh, thank goodness! It popped out of the leg hole! Well, that was lucky, wasn't it? You don't want to go around with one foot, you'd have to hop!"

Physically making them do it doesn't have to mean sitting on them and ignoring their screams (though... it is sometimes the only option) you can impose some kind of structure in a nice, fun way, and I can guarantee you this is what they do at nursery. Talking about all the fun they are going to have playing outside while they pull his coat on while he's distracted, etc. Also, at nursery they have the power of peer pressure where the other children are doing it so he will too, and the power of not being "Mum" who seems to get free rein to be ignored!

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