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  • Toddler Refuses To Cooperate? Try This Mom's Positive Parenting Hack

    If you're losing patience because your toddler keeps saying no, here’s how to change their mind.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Toddler Refuses To Cooperate? Try This Mom's Positive Parenting Hack
  • Trying to get a stubborn toddler to cooperate is frustrating for parents. While defiance is a normal period of child development, the constant power struggle can get tiring that parents are tempted to bribe their child in exchange for good behavior (which can be counterproductive!). Thankfully, one mom offers an expert-approved hack: the “When-Then” tactic.

    How to get your child to do as you say

    In an article for PopSugar, mom Angela Elias shares that she learned this method from Amy McCready, a parenting expert and founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. “It’s a ridiculously simple method for motivating a child to do a task, and it even has a built-in consequence if the task isn’t done.”

    Here’s how it works: Say your toddler refuses to wash their hands after playing outside or gives an excuse why they shouldn’t do it. Instead of using your “galit na ako” voice or asking them over and over again to do as you say, calmly tell them that when they do the “undesirable” task then they can do something they are looking forward to.

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    So it can go something like this. “Anak, when you wash your hands, then you can have merienda.” Or, if they refuse to prepare for bedtime, you can say, “When you prepare for bed, then we can read a bedtime story together.”

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    Not only will you avoid power struggles, but you’ll also satisfy your toddler’s need to feel in control. Giving them a choice will empower your kids to complete the task when they are ready. Angela says that you might have to wait a bit for your child to carry out what you ask of them, but they will always come around if the “then” is something they really care about.

    It might feel as if you are using positive enforcement, a discipline tactic that involves giving praise or rewards to encourage good behavior. But according to Amy, “Unlike giving your child a reward for doing what they are supposed to do, with When-Then, we’re simply controlling the order in which normally allowed privileges can be enjoyed. We’re controlling the environment.”


    This means that if you normally give your child merienda or read them a bedtime story, then you can also use these as motivators. Just remember not to use “If” instead of “when.” That can signal your child that you’re unsure about whether they can carry out the task or not.

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    Yes, this discipline method works

    Angela says that when she first tried this method with her son, he did the opposite of what she expected: he cried and followed mom around, demanding snacks and screen time. If this happens to you, Angela’s advice is to keep calm and walk away. The consequences have been made clear to your toddler, so avoid consoling him and worse, giving in.

    Eventually, your toddler will realize that they are in charge of getting what they want. Angela says her son went up to her when he was ready to wash his hands. In response, Angela prepared his snack. Deep inside, she was secretly rejoicing and giving herself a mental high-five.


    As your child grows, they will desire to be independent. They want to be just like mom or dad, so they will test their limits to see what they are capable of doing. In the process, they will be testing your limits, too.

    Empowering them to make decisions can make them more agreeable and can prevent tantrums from happening. It will also help develop skills like problem-solving and confidence. So, even if they refuse to cooperate, just take a breath and stick to the “When-Then” method. Trust that your child will come around!

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