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Today I realized that lying is my parenting strategy for not overusing the “no” word- for the toddler anyway.
I find myself saying “No” constantly. No, don’t take your clothes off. No, don’t feed that to the dog. No, you cannot fly. But in some instances, you can just lie instead of always saying “no.”
My toddler asked me to bring her the iPad as I was putting her down for her nap. I tucked her and her Lambie doll in and gave them both kisses.
“I gotta go get it,” I promised. “Be right back.”
“Okay Mommy,” my 2.5 year-old said, delighted.
I never came back with the iPad. I waited fifteen minutes for her to stop talking when I found her PTFO. Before she fell asleep, she called me a few times and I answered, “getting it!” She eventually forgot and fell asleep.
I know it seems mean-the thought of her cute little face waiting for me to come back. But it is far better than the meltdown of “no.”
If I had just told her no, there would have been a full blown emotional episode. She would have screamed and kicked her feet for twenty minutes before passing out. Why? Because she is a toddler and has zero control over her environment, and toddlers- they want to dictate everything. To skip the fit, I just lie to her on some occasions.
Is it wrong? I don’t know and I don’t care. But she is too young to reason with at nap time.
My equation is simple:
She was recently having tantrums during drop off at daycare when we leave. I get sucked in and I stay with her, I rub her back, I hold her, give her forty-seven hugs and kisses, and am late to work. Now instead, we just skip the tantrum.
My husband tells her he has to go get “it.” Or he has to go “fix it.” She has no idea what “it” is but she is usually okay if she thinks we are coming right back. So we always tell her, “be right back.”
It is not like we are not coming back. “Be right back” …at 5:30!
Other lies we tell her include:
“Oh no, we ran out of (insert junk food of choice here), how about this (usually something healthier, like real food).”
“The TV is broken.”
Lying is a win-win when it comes to toddlers because they, the little bosses, think they are running the show. This is like the placedo effect of control and dominance in which they feel all of the power and yet reap none of the rewards. Whatever works, right?
Disclaimer: It is not recommended you use lying as a parenting method for children over the age of 5 or who have developed and complex reasoning skills.