Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekly Column: No Demands, Just Games

I just realized that I forgot to post my column last weekend, so I'm just SURE you were dying to know this week's advice, right?  Here ya go!  (I aim to please.)

Handing my 4-year-old her pajamas, I said, “These jammies are a little tricky. I’m SURE you’ll need help. Just let me get some socks, and I’ll be right back.” She giggled conspiratorially while I slowly walked away. Turning around again, I remembered: “Oh, did you want pink or white…WAIT! WHAT IN THE WORLD?! HOW DID THAT SHIRT GET ON?!” My mouth was open wide in shock, my eyes full of humorous disbelief.

“I did it, mama!” she shouted, laughing at my gullibility. “Now,” she instructed, “you can get my socks and say, I’ll be right back to help you with your pants.” Her hands were poised over her pajama pants, waiting for me to leave.

“Okay, I’ll be right back to help you with your pants.” I wandered away, still speaking. “Surely those are too difficult for you to do by yourself. Just wait patiently while I….WAIT!” I’d returned with socks, to find my fully dressed daughter, barely containing her sense of trickery. “WHO PUT YOUR PANTS ON FOR YOU?!”

The process repeated through teeth brushing and story time – whenever there was a task needing to be done, she had to prove how capable she was. She woke up the next day wanting to be told “Surely you can’t…” and then proving me wrong when she DID whatever I’d been so sure she was too little to do.

The sense of tricking her mom was so much fun that she didn’t even realize she was following the rules. She was doing what I wanted her to do – getting ready for bed, getting dressed for preschool, cleaning up her room – and I never once issued a demand. It was too much fun for demands.

It was playful. It was a game. And it’s my newest go-to strategy for getting things done.


  1. Love it! This might be more effective than my bellowing, thunderous approach of late ("PUT your shirt on, NOW!") ;)

    Your snatches of wisdom, as always, are appreciated :)

  2. I love the way you mother! And you're right, too. It's often so much more effective to be playful than to be stern. Great advice this week!

  3. You are so clever...ha ha, I love it!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?