bribes, threats, and deals

Having a two year-old is really challenging.  (Is that an understatement or what?!)  But on the plus side, Russ and I have become masters of trickeration to get the job done.  Disciplining is so hard, and just when we think we’ve figured it out, a new issue comes up and we have to put on our creative parenting thinking hats once more to come up with a solution.


We learned early on the power of the option.  Instead of, “let’s get dressed”  or “let’s eat breakfast”  or the really wrong approach, “do you want to eat breakfast now?” – we say “would you like to wear your purple shirt or your pink shirt?”  or “do you want cereal or oatmeal for breakfast?”  It’s amazing how many tantrums and arguments we have avoided by giving Piglet a small amount of power and control over the situation.


But there are times when the option does not apply, when a direct order is, well, in order.  This usually leads to all forms of heads exploding because Piglet loves to  not listen and do the exact opposite of whatever the order may be.  Repeating something 55 times with no result drives me completely batty.  So we then mastered the count to three approach.  A time out used to be on the other side of the “three”, but Piglet has learned to be completely apathetic to time out.   awesome.  So we started taking away toys.  The top shelf of our bookshelves are full of toys.  She gets them back when she has been a good helper or listener.  There are good days and bad.  But I find myself saying, “if you don’t do X, then you will lose a toy” way more often than I’d like.  I wish there was an easier way or a better way to discipline.  any ideas?

We are also struggling with bedtime.  Piglet is a master at THE STALL.  So we start threatening to take away books one by one until we don’t read any books before bed (which is really heartbreaking for me because I love reading books).   THEN we struggle with her actually staying in bed.  So we have to threaten to take away her stuffed animals one by one until she stays in bed.  But last night, I hit the ultimate threat.  I said, “if you want to watch any TV in the morning when you wake up, then you need to stay in bed.”  Girl did not move a muscle after that.

The same thing worked in the mornings when she kept getting up to early.  Now she stays in bed until 6:30 (when her good night light comes on) every morning (unless she has to poop, which is actually quite often).


AKA THE INCENTIVE or THE REWARD (if I want to make myself feel better about it ).  We have also been working on pooping in the potty for a while now.   Piglet is a pee champ, but she holds onto the poop like it’s her BFF.   We tried offering two m&ms, but that was not enough motivation.  So we finally made a sticker chart to hang in the bathroom.  Whenever she poops in the potty, she gets two m&ms AND a sticker.  And when she gets five stickers, she gets a reward.  It was a slow start (taking over 2 weeks to get five stickers), but now she is on a roll (five stickers in a week).  And she gets really excited about the sticker.  more so than the reward really.  Now it’s time to up the number of stickers required for a prize because with two stickers a day, it’s going to get pretty expensive to go to Old McDonald’s or get a new movie every five.


The deal, a close cousin to the bride and the threat, also known as THE BARGAIN, is most utilized at meal time.  “You can have one more strawberry if you eat one more bite of chicken”  But it’s really fun when making bigger deal deals because we shake on it and she says, “deal”.  And she is really good at holding up her end of a deal, so I’m rather partial to the deal as opposed to the threat and bribe.  But WHATEVER GETS THE JOB DONE.

At the end of the day, my head hurts from all the deals, threats, bribes, and options, but at least my head is not exploding.  I just hope we’re not screwing Piglet up.

3 Responses

  1. I could have written this word for word! Especially the “Deal” part! My fave though is when the deal involves what we call “Toddler Math”. I say, “J, you must eat 4 more bites of chicken to get strawberries.” He says, “How about just six bites.” “Okay, just six bites” He will then count out 6 bites and eat them thinking he has TOTALLY won! Ha!

  2. I totally agree and as I read this it was like you were talking about our routines! Just wait for two! Its even crazier!

  3. that’s how we roll at this house too. 🙂

    especially the toddler math megan was talking about! it makes me giggle every time josh is like “no! 5 more carrots! not 2!”

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