3 Things Not to Say to Your Toddler

NEVER, never tell them you have a surprise for them.
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You would think that I'd have figured this out by now. But no, the drama class is every day in my house. No prerequisites. My husband and I often go back and forth until one of us caves -- usually the next day. It's a lot of work. But when I'm right, it's well worth it.

So arguing with a toddler is a whole different ballgame. There has to be a strategy, otherwise you might go into a psychotic rage next time they ask you "Why?"

1. NEVER, never tell them you have a surprise for them.

Don't tell them until you physically have it in your possession and are ready to give it to them. Otherwise, there could be an unplanned hostage situation, or early bedtime, which is not pretty.

If you make the mistake of telling them without being prepared, you will be bombarded with 20 questions to the point that you might drive to the toy store -- and the surprise is now picking out the most expensive toy (when you had a bag of dollar store toys in the closet for potty training or rewards).

"What is it?"

"Can I have it now?"

"But I want it now."

"Is it a toy?"

"Is it candy?"

"Can I see it?"

"Can you show me?"

You will regret ever saying anything.

2. Don't tell them to go to sleep AT BEDTIME.

They will do anything to stay up. They will pull out the big guns.

"I forgot to say a prayer."

"I need more kisses."

"Can you hold me?"

"Can we read another book?"

Just put them in the bed, say nothing, kiss them and walk away. Don't engage. As soon as they start talking, it is a ploy to get you to cave. If you slip and say, "Go to sleep," you are opening the door for more conversation.

"I can't."

"I can't sleep."

"Is that thunder?"

"We forgot to say Amen."

"I'm hungry."

"I want milk."

And so it goes... don't do it. Walk away.

3. "If you poop in the potty, you can have that toy."

What you are really saying is that they can have the toy they asked for two weeks ago in either Target, Walmart, Babies R Us or the dollar store. And................ prepare yourself for a meltdown when you try to figure out where it was.

True Story:

I picked up Henri from school and he said, "Mommy! I didn't have an accident! Can we go to 'that store' with 'the toy?'"

"OK," I said, sticking to my word.

We were going to skip his nap and drive straight there. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, BAM he was out sleeping. So I drove all the way home. As soon as we pulled into our parking space, BAM he was up, wide awake.

"Where are we?"

"Where's the store?" The tears start welling up in his eyes.

So we drive back to the store, as promised. As soon as we pull into the parking lot, he says, "This isn't the store!"

"Yes it is!!! This is the store with 'that toy'!"

"No, it's not!"

and so the drama begins...

Know your facts. Write things down -- IN FRONT OF THEM.

There are so many other things that I will eventually add to this article on what not to say to your toddler. It will save you the time and energy of putting yourself in a sticky situation. Sometimes, if I haven't had my coffee yet, something might slip out of my mouth. Just as I have said it, I know that there will be consequences. Deja vu.

©2016 Lucee Santini, as first published on