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Call their bluffs

Author Bill Bounds
Submitted 15-02-2011

Our daughter has several mostly self-appointed jobs around the house from feeding the dog and putting her toys away to turning on lights in the hall as we walk through. She has other smaller responsibilities like giving my wife and I kisses bye-bye or for “night-nights.” 

Lately, she occasionally finds herself in a particularly foul or independent mood and decides she simply doesn’t want to do these things, even though, if she were in any other mood, she would be furious with us if we tried to do them for her or didn’t stop for a kiss before we left or she went to bed. Trying to make her do these very normal things when she decides she doesn’t want to  – or, ironically, us doing them when she’s in these moods – will result in a full blown temper tantrum as surely as if we walked up and took ice cream out of her hands.

I’ve begun a new tact to dealing with these lapses in motivation. Knowing full well that she simply wants to be the decision maker in these stalemates, I call her bluff. Instead of trying to make her feed the dog or whatever the job in question, turning the moment into a screaming fit, I just casually say, “Okay then, I’m going to do it,” and then walk away.


Like clockwork, every time so far (and I do mean every time), she yells, “NO!” and runs after me insisting that she does the job. When she refuses to give me “bye byes”, I just say, “Okay,” and then turn on my heels and walk out. Without fail, she runs after me yelling that she wants her bye-bye kisses. And, for that eventual time where she doesn’t chase after me to do whatever it is, at least the item gets done without a screaming match.

So, my advice to anyone out there encountering these situations is to take the upper hand and regain control of the situation. Calling a bluff from time to time will not only keep the ambient noise level of your house under control, but it will also help you show your child where the boundaries are. And, after all, for a two-year-old, that’s what it’s all about.