Don’t your DARE brush your teeth!

May 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Daily Life | 7 Comments
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It’s tiring being terrible.

Or get into the bath, or put your toys away, or finish your greens.

Don’t do any of those things, or else there will be trouble.  With a capital T.

It’s my secret weapon you see – reverse psychology.  And, and the moment it’s the only thing that works.

Take yesterday evening – my son was busy stripping the shelves in Tesco of loaves of bread.  Tossing them across the aisles, causing a slalom of carbs for bemused shoppers.

I start with ‘bear please can you put all the bread back?’ in my calm, sing-songy Mary Poppins voice.  This is met with a single raised strawberry-blonde eyebrow.  I imagine this is the expression that Garfield gives to Odie when he’s sitting in his spot in the sun.

Next I try ‘we’re going, put the bread back – please’.  A blunt ‘nope’ with much head shaking.  I can actually see his feet welding themselves to the spot.

I follow this with ‘shall mummy help you?’ and ‘last chance before mummy gets cross’ and ‘that’s it I’m counting to three’.  Does anyone have the Gina Giraffe app on their iPhone? If so, my son was making the same noise as she does when you offer her a carrot and she wants an ice cream (which costs 50p I might add, shocking).

I finally come to my senses and remember that I’m actually cleverer than my nearly-three going on thirteen year old and swiftly change tact – ‘Don’t you DARE put that bread back on the shelf’.

Et voila, you can stop staring at me loitering granny shoppers, I have triumphed, the bread is back on the shelf and we are departing for the quick pay lane faster than you can say ‘every little helps’.

At the end of the two’s and having avoided the terrible ones, I thought the gods of parenting were looking down on me and had blessed me with a little long haired, uber cute and show off-able son.  But it appears that no parent gets off scott free and of late bear has learnt the phrase ‘I don’t have to’ and is always using ‘no’ as often as humanly possible.  Trying to say the least.

This reverse approach works with most aspects of MCP (Moments of Challenging Parenting) and SIPM (Situations of Imminent Parent Meltdown) – try phrases such as do not brush your teeth, wipe your face, finish your tea, switch the TV off – give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised.

And, if you prove me right (with adoring comments, many tweets and general spreading of the good word), then I may become the next Super Nanny and live in that big house with the picket fence and verandah that I’ve always dreamed of.  Come on, it’s nice, it has window boxes too – and my husband gets the dog he’s always wanted as well.  You want me to be happy, right?!



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  1. How this rings true! I have my own two-going-on-teenager and think we have more of this to come.

    • It’s exhausting, but like I say to mine, I will always win! It’s my mantra!

  2. I think we are now approaching the terrible twos and Lara has learned to say ‘no, Mummy’ in quite an authoratative voice. Over the past fortnight I have had to raise my voice at least twice every day (which considering she goes to nursery for most of the day is quite an achievement). I suspect she may be a little young for the reverse psychology to work on her but I’m going to give it a try!

    • Let me know how you get on! Bet it’s still a very mellow raised voice!

  3. Blimey. Sounds hard work. I avoid taking my daughter into tesco for similar reasons and she’s 7! I like your reverse psychology. Think I’ll give it a try.

    • We are now only buying food online, it’s far easier – although you can’t do it on the iPad infront of him because he demands to do jigsaw puzzles – joy. And I thought it was myPad!

  4. What an excellent theory, I am going to give that a go with my two. x

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