I must admit when writing the article, I originally was writing it to use on your own child. Now that I’ve taken some time on it, I think you should be able to go up to any 3 year old on the street and employ at least 50 percent of these tactics. Then you should be able to win. There is no money back guarantee, but nonetheless, my confidence is pretty high. Winning an argument with a 3-year-old isn’t easy, but here are a few steps that might set you on the right path.
Step 1: Is your whole heart in this?
There is no half-butt arguments with a 3-year-old. They go from 0 to space shuttle speed in the blink of an eye. Thus, you too need to be prepared to reach into that emotional depth in which they fling themselves onto the ground with no second thoughts. Are you prepared to pull out that level of indignation over a chocolate chip falling off a granola bar? They are, you know they are. You’ve seen it, lived it even.
Now chances are, that if you searched up this topic on Google (or Bing-equal opportunity searchers here), you are not engaged in battle at this very moment. You have time to retreat before the argument begins. Mull it over.
Step 2: I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
You need to go to a mirror right now. Take a look at that schmuck. Do you have blood shot eyes? Is your nose clean? Make-up smeared across your face or on your teeth? Take a minute and fix that up. You seem confused about that one. Here is what people don’t tell you. 3 year old’s are vicious. They will go at you about anything. Your looks included.
“You have cracks in your eyes,” they judgmentally say to you. “What is the black on your face?” they ask while smearing your mascara and poking your eye. Those are all too familiar derailing techniques used by these miniature debaters. The best offense is a good defense. Make sure there is nothing out of place and shut that down before they start.
Step 3: Breath In The Sunshine, Breath Out The Anger
Look I’m not here to blow sunshine and rainbows out of a cannon into your armpit. I’m here to help you prepare for war. This is going to get worse before it gets better. We’re in it together. Together, but not together. I can’t do any of the work and I won’t be at all near you. Aside from that, we are doing this together.
Step 4: I don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
This is very important. Verify that you are disagreeing before taking this any further. Its sounds dumb. I will admit that I have argued with a 3-year-old only to find out that she was actually agreeing with me, but she didn’t know the correct words to do so (super embarrassing for her, if she had any self-awareness.) In my situation, my daughter was yelling “turn up” the radio, but wanted it “turned down.” I bickered with her about it being too loud. She insists. I turned it down to make a point and she says “See, that better- I say turn it up.” I’m pretty sure we both went away from that one thinking we won. I really did though since I know words mean things.
Step 5: When They Go Low, We Go High
This is to be taken both literally and figuratively. In the above exchange with the radio I didn’t continue to throw it in her face that she used the words wrong. I mean, yes I got a parting pot shot in here. She doesn’t read though. It’s likely fine. In addition to that tower over your child. Assert dominance in any way you can. Standing tall, howling at the moon,.. etc. etc. This is a dog eat, dog world.
Step 6: Steel Yourself for Tears
It’s always good policy to keep Kleenexes on hand. Kids are snot machines. These Kleenexes will hopefully be there for the youngster when they arrive at the realization that they were wrong, and his/her parent is amazing and correct. Equally as likely is that you will have a small weepy breakdown from answering “why” for the 26 bazillionith time in a row.
Step 7: Presentation Is Key
3 year olds are visual learners. You don’t want to talk at them. They are going to want to see something. Make them something to look at while you explain how wrong they are and how disappointed in their wrongness you have become. Maybe make puppets out of construction paper. Maybe do a graph. Put together a collage of frowny faces. Trust me just have a presentation available.
Step 8: Be Ready to Drop Lyrics
Teach your child to beat box as backup (prior to the argument). Keep the swearing to a minimum if possible… or not – your kid.
Step 9: Know When to Ask for Backup
My favorite backup recruits are the stuffed animals that my children love. I add them into arguments. “I’m Princess Sparkle Rainbow Bear and I support the message brought to you by your mommy. Do whatever she says,” the stuffed animal will insist to my daughter. You really need to practice throwing your voice ahead of time so you don’t embarrass yourself.
Ventriloquism is one of those skills that will come in handy through your whole life. You can use it in dark allies, doctor offices, and funerals to name a few situations that beg to have it introduced.
Step 10: Repeat Yourself and Retain Your Dignity
Just keep saying “I’m the mom,” as you rock yourself in the fetal position. Eventually they will stop what they are doing and check on you. Then you know it’s over and you have… won?
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(Image: iStock / STUDIOGRANDOUEST)