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Quick and dirty parenting tips: How to make toddlers keep their promises

Carlotta Cerri

Doesn’t it happen all the time to you, too? You make a deal with your toddlers, you compromise, they agree, and then… they forget. Sometimes they really don’t want to keep the deal, but most often—truth be told—their mind is not that Machiavellian, they genuinely forget and in just a few minutes!

This is a quick and dirty tip that Alex and I have started using to make sure Oliver keeps his promises and respects our deals.

We record him agreeing to whatever we want him to agree to. It's time proof!

Lately, for example, Oliver always wants to watch two Curious George episodes before going to sleep, and when he realizes he’s not going to win that battle, he tries to convince us to let him fall asleep on the couch in the living room (Alex did it for a while not to disturb Emily sleeping since they’re in the same room, but we wanted to break the habit).

So one night we recorded him agreeing to our terms and when he then tried to get his way (10 minutes later), we showed him the video. He remembered (and was actually quite surprised to see himself agreeing to it) and we avoided a power struggle. We have shown him this video many, many times since, and it always works!

What’s really important, in our experience, is mentioning as many details as possible and ask questions they have to answer (as opposed to making a video explaining the deal without the toddler being actively involved).

Give it a try next time you sense a power struggle is coming, it’ll work!

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