Dealing With Defiance
"I want you in here by the time I count to five!" This tells your child that you're done asking and her time is nigh. This can be a very effective method of getting her to come or stop what she's doing, as long as you're prepared to follow through (and have done so in the past). It's when you reach the magic number and then continue to plead that this ceases to be effective. That battle has been lost. If you don't want to lose it, you've got to show your kids you mean business, every time.
"My kids know that if I get to three, I will do something that has an immediate and undesirable effect on them," says Christina Bess, a mom of two, in Maplewood, New Jersey, who adds that at various times she's picked up her screaming charges and carried them to the car or put them into bed fully clothed. "At this point, I rarely have to say anything more than 'Stop that...ONE..."
Some parents swear by counting backward, because zero is much more final than five, which is just so tempting to stretch to siiiiiixxxxx or even sevvvvvvvennnn.
Laugh it off
Often a toddler can simply be distracted from bad behavior. Jennifer Ingle has a "Manners" poem she gets her two kids singing if they start acting up at a restaurant: Matthew, Matthew, strong and able/Get your foot off the table/This is not a horse's stable/But a first-rate dining table. "The poem turns it into a silly situation," she says, "which is much easier to defuse."
Plain old distraction can work, too. "The only way I can get my three-year-old into the car for preschool every morning is if I make it a big excursion to go see the garbage trucks," says Rae Sullivan of Durham, North Carolina. "He's obsessed with garbage trucks, so as long as that's where we're going, it works."