How to manipulate your kid to do the right thing

If I actually knew how to manipulate your kid to do the right thing, I’d write a book. You’d buy it. I’d make a million dollars and retire from life.

In the meantime, daycare gave me a reading assignment.


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The miracle workers over at daycare know how to manipulate my kid into doing all kinds of things. (How about eating hummus for lunch? How about walking in a line with your mouth shut? How about taking a nap?) To do this, they practice conscious discipline. Don’t worry – I don’t know what that means either. So they told me to read, Dr. Becky Bailey’s book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.

This book is a game changer. She tells you to STOP PUNISHING YOUR KID.

What? Really?!

What about when my kid finds a black sharpie marker and writes all over my fabulous red leather sofa, the kitchen cabinets, the white walls in the hall, and my darling throw pillows? (Praise Baby Jesus for Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser that took it off the walls. Praise Baby Jesus for plain ole, boring, white toothpaste that took it off the kitchen cabinets. Praise Baby Jesus for rubbing alcohol that took it off the throw pillows. Praise Baby Jesus for strategically-placed quilts to cover up the sofa…Yep, the sofa is still sporting its wounds from the great sharpie battle of 2017.)



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Photo credit: Leo Rivas-Micoud from

I’m loving these tips mommas shared on Facebook.

I wholeheartedly agree with this approach. We just taught my 3.5yo the meaning of the word “consequence” and it really stuck with him. I really like the idea of natural consequences, but I also think good old fashioned consequences (you did something bad, therefore no dessert) work really well starting at this age, too.

The other day, he threw something at his baby brother. Husband freaked out and older one freaked out and started screaming apologies. Yelling and forcefully removing him from the situation seems to make him feel victimized, which I think makes it harder for him to reflect on his actions and feel sorry for what he did (too busy feeling sorry that we were “mean” to him!!) But when I calmly sat him down and said, “I know that might have been an accident. But because you weren’t being more careful, there is a consequence. That consequence is no treat after dinner.” To my utter SHOCK he understood and didn’t put up a fight – even 3 hours later when the consequence actually came into play!
–Jada, mom of two little guys

When my kids make messes I always make them clean it up. I’m having difficulty with dealing with the temper tantrums. But I’ve found explaining and giving them options help them. A consistent option is always to go to his room for a breather.
–Lorayah, mom of two littles

Interesting! I found similar advice in The Irreducible Needs of Children by T. Berry Brazelton Stanley Greenspan.

I practice consequences with my girl sometimes – for example if I ask her three times to take her blankie with her into the car but she doesn’t listen, then cries in the car for her blankie, I say, “Oh well! I asked you to pick it up and take it with you and you didn’t listen!” Stuff like that. But if she kicks me after I say stop or something more serious safety-wise, then I use time outs. However time outs seem to really deter her, which I know doesn’t deter many toddlers.
–Patricia, toddler girl mom

I’m reading (haven’t opened it yet b/c Facebook eats my soul) Making The Terrible Twos Terrific by John Rosemond! Hoping for some Jedi mind tricks!
–Nikki, mother of two

You’re doing it mom! CD works. Good for you.
–Sandy Johnson, daycare administrator

Do you do house calls?
–Melanie, mom of two teen boys

You’re a genius! Impressive!
–Jill, my kind colleague and boy mom

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