All children, but especially smaller ones – aged 2 to 6 – like to test their parents’ limits. The reason for that is simple: they are in the process of discovering the world around them and want to satisfy their curiosity.

The result can be stressful for parents, though.

Because more often than not, they find themselves in the situation of repeating the same interdiction over and over again, while their patience is pushed to its limits and their kids keep ignoring what they have to say.

These situations, that we are all familiar with, generate tensions.

Going shopping – where the child always wants new toys, or starts running through the aisles.

Leaving the playground – when 5 more minutes are often demanded, and many other situations when the child just won’t give in.




Getting dressed!

Leaving the house!


Here are the 4 words to get your child to listen

Regardless of what your child is doing, you can always use these four words to bring back order:

“You have two options!” 

It’s that simple!

This phrase, through which you offer your child choices, will help you every single time. Why is that? It’s because it offers both of you – parent and child – the feeling of being in control. Kids like to be in control. But so do parents. Being given options makes the child feel like the final choice is his, even if that means stopping an activity that he enjoys.

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A few examples:
“You have two options: you can either wear this jacket or the other one”
“You have two options: we could stay at the park for an extra 10 minutes, but then there will be no time for… Or we could leave now, and also have time for… ”
“You have two options: ride the bike with the helmet on, or leave the bike at home”
“You have two options: you either use those colored pencils to draw on paper, or you don’t use them at all”
“You have two options: you either hold my hand when we’re crossing the street, or you sit in your pushchair, with the seatbelt on”
“You have two options: you either let the train rest while we’re eating, or we put it away until tomorrow”

Why Use This Technique to Get Your Child to Listen?

If you don’t want to end up punishing your child, but feel like you need a way to stay in control of the situation, giving your child two options will really help.

You should also know that this technique is most efficient when you keep your word. So, if he choses to stay at the park longer than you were supposed to, but knows that when he gets home, he won’t have any more time for coloring, then you should stick to your word.

You will allow him the extra time at the park, but you will remind him at home that the option he picked meant giving up coloring.

It is, indeed an approach that conditions the child to perform an action (or to stop one). But by giving him choices, you are also offering him the chance to control his decision. You are giving him the final word.

As you’ve already noticed, we are avoiding the word “NO”. Kids don’t react well to this word. Sudden interdiction, with no right to negotiate, only makes things worse.

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From my own experience I can tell you that this technique will work wonders 90% of the time. In the other 10% of the time, when he is upset, my little boy says: “I won’t pick anything”.

What do you do when you can’t reach an understanding with your child?

In these cases, you must take a step back and try to understand the reasons for that. Is he upset? Tired? Hungry? Why is he being extra difficult?

Than stop what you’re doing and go to him.

Sit at the same level as he does, look him in the eye and talk to him calmly.

Explain things. Teach him to fully grasp what one option offers him and what the other one does. Offer him a hug, a kiss, a caress.

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Kids always need guiding. Encourage their independence, let them feel included in the decision-making process – especially when it concerns them – and be constant, by showing them, at the same time, understanding, affection, respect and a lot of love.