It’s a post-Halloween miracle: the Switch Witch worked! That idea I mentioned last time that I got from some smarter mom online, about letting kids trade in their candy for something else? It worked! I floated it tentatively by my 4yo, bracing myself for his strident rebuttal. But what do you know? He agreed.
All I had to do was take him to Toys R Us and endure a painfully long wait while he browsed the aisles looking for that perfect toy. When my 7yo got home from school and saw what a fine old time his little bro was having with his new toy, he too traded in his trick-or-trick bag for a stuffed Pokemon thingie. Don’t you just love parenting advice that actually works?
I’m grouping this first anecdote under the heading, Tip# 1: Give kids choices. I heard a parenting expert say this once and it’s so true. Kids are told what to wear, what to eat, when to go to bed, and on and on. It’s no wonder they get a little ornery sometimes. Let them make the call on some of the small things, and you’ll both win.
Far easier is Tip #2: To get kids to listen, talk about them to someone else. Here’s an example: In the mornings, I often ask my older son to go upstairs after breakfast and get himself dressed. “Miles, go on up and grab some clothes.” “Miles, it’s time to get dressed now.” “Miles! I asked you to please go get dressed for school!” “MILES!! If you don’t go GET DRESSED RIGHT NOW we will be LATE and you will NOT get to play with your friends at school EVER AGAIN!!” Zen Mama, right here.
As an experiment, I decided to try this piece of parenting advice I’d read about. I said to my other son, “Riley, I guess Miles doesn’t want to go to school today. I asked him to get dressed 3 times now and he’s not, so he won’t get to play with his friends. And too bad he’ll miss recess.” Guess what happened? Miles sprang into action. He immediately sprinted upstairs, threw on his clothes, and was waiting at the door with his backpack within minutes. How about that?
I’m not gonna lie: Pinterest pages full of cutesy lunch and snack ideas like apple slices in the shape of race cars or smiley-face sandwiches stress me out. Oh, great, I think. It’s not enough that I have to prepare healthy, appetizing meals a zillion times a day. I also have to MAKE IT CUTE?! I don’t have time for that. I’ve got laundry to do! Articles to write! Paint to watch dry! Fun mom, right here. (Although my zucchini muffinbots were pretty darn cute, yes?)
Well, it turns out that someone in our house has a knack for making whimsical food that our kids actually eat. (Hint: it’s not me.) Here’s Dad’s Fourth of July French toast. And that’s not even his best work. He also lets the kids play with their food. He’ll say, “Look, I’m a dinosaur and I’m going to eat these tiny trees!” Then he’ll chomp down a piece of broccoli. Then the boys race to gobble up their “tiny trees,” too. So there you have it, parenting Tip #3: Let kids play with their food. Or maybe, Presentation counts.*
Since I get my best tips from other parents, let’s hear it: what advice have you found that actually works in your house?
*I feel compelled to add this disclaimer: all kids are different. Just because something worked for me does not mean it will work for you. So don’t send me angry emails about how your toddler threw your smiley face pancakes back in your face, OK?