Opinion

Gwen Rockwood: Toddlers to teens, it works

Also effective for spouses

Whether you're 40-something or only 4, we all want our own way. Toddlers are especially insistent about getting their own way, which is why you'll often see one out in public having a meltdown when things haven't gone well.

As we get older, we learn to relax a little but, underneath the seemingly mature, reasonable facade, we all want what we want.

So here's a handy how-to guide for how to shift the odds in your favor, especially when dealing with kids. (Feel free to try the tips on spouses and co-workers, too.) Some might think these steps are sneaky or manipulative. I'd just call them "effective."

Step 1: Make it easy for them to do it your way.

We humans always want the quickest, easiest way to get something done. If this weren't true, the remote control wouldn't exist. Arrange the circumstances so that "your way" is also the easiest and simplest way, and your odds of success shoot way up.

The only reason our kids have shoes on is because I set up shoe cubbies right by the car in our garage so it's easy to dump shoes into a bin before they go into the house. Without this system, the kids would track mud into the house daily and never be able to find a pair of matching shoes when it's time to leave.

Step 2: Brag, don't nag.

OK, so maybe there's no way to eliminate nagging completely. But it is easier to get people to do stuff when they think that you think they're awesome at that particular task. I once made our oldest organize a closet, and the results were so good that I bragged on it for months. Now when I need something organized, I recruit him for the job, and he reports for duty with much less grumbling because he knows I admire his skills.

Step 3: Incentivize with pizza.

This one's easy and is especially effective during growth spurts when kids get hungry about once every 17 minutes. When they don't want to do it your way, tell them there's a pizza in it for them. Works every time.

Step 4: Play a mind game.

There are two times in a kid's life -- toddlerhood and the teenage years -- when he or she is sure they do NOT want to do anything that you think might be a good idea. During these phases, you may need a strategically timed mind game.

When one of our boys was a vegetable-hating toddler, I made green peas for dinner and told him not to eat any because it was a grown-up food. Fast forward nine years. He still eats green peas as if they're M&Ms.

Check. Mate.

Step 5: Play the "Mom Card."

When all else fails, and it often does, I play the "Mom Card." When they start whining about how hard their chores are, I remind them that giving birth wasn't so easy either and that I did it not one but three times.

They roll their eyes immediately and say, "Aw, Mom! You always say that." And they're right. I do always say it because it's always true, and it's impossible to trump the Mom Card. To maximize the effect of the Mom Card, just add exaggerated details of the birth or what happens if you have a surprise sneeze at the same time as a full bladder. They'll do anything just to make you stop talking.

That's it -- five easy steps to world domination. Use one or multiple steps until you achieve the desired effect. Go forth, and use your powers wisely.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. This column originally appeared in 2015. Email her at [email protected]. Her book is available on Amazon.

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