#4 - Mental Toughness
I asked my husband to keep Kate out of our bedroom one morning after he retrieved her from the crib. He oversees 800 employees at work, and, from what I've heard, he's no soft touch. But Kate, he explained as he brought her into our room and put her on our bed, simply demanded to see me. Faced with an insistent toddler, it seems that even the most strong-willed of us will cave under pressure every once in a while.
The problem with losing our resolve is that toddlers -- like most kids -- are always looking for a crack in the wall of parental determination. If you give in too often, or even appear to be receptive to their pleas, you begin to lose your credibility. "Kids will play off your ambivalence," says Elias. "When they think you can be broken, they go after what they want with full force." Your counterattack: Be firm and determined enough that your child knows that you mean what you say.
To develop the mental toughness you'll need in the face of pure toddler -- style persistence, try to remember that you can and will survive whatever your little one throws your way. "It helps to disengage yourself emotionally from the fight," says Elias. "When your child doesn't want to get in the car seat, she isn't trying to thwart your plans -- it's not personal."
Oftentimes, parents fear upsetting their child. But crying and disappointment are simply part of growing up. If you back down on decisions you believe in, you're doing your toddler a greater disservice than if you let her weep in apparent misery. Fits and tantrums can be hard to handle -- especially when they feel like public displays of your lack of control -- but it's important to let your child know that you're the one who calls the shots.