How To Control Your Children

Earlier this week I wrote about the ways my son is my puppet master. He often literally controls my body, forcing me to watch what he wants to watch, go where he wants to go, dance when he wants to dance, etc. It can be frustrating.

But I’m an adult and he’s a toddler. So while he gets a fair amount of leeway, since he’s both the cutest child of all time and the likely future of humanity (or its ruin, as indicated by the shadow he’s casting in this photo), he is really only able to control me when I let him control me.

Otherwise, I control him.


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Five Ways To Control Your Children

  1. Mommy
    When he gets really out of hand or I’m too tired or aggravated or busy or hungover or drunk to deal with a demanding (is there another kind?) two-year-old, I just call his mother over to handle things. Done and done.
  2. Threats
    None of these work: Time outs; withholding of snacks; withholding of toys; withholding of [whatever he’s whining about at that moment]. Honestly, if a threat does work, it doesn’t work for long. Many parents frown upon such scare tactics, but we all use them sooner or later. There’s an entire holiday built around them! What is Santa if not both the carrot and the stick? Our son’s not old enough for “Elf on the Shelf” – and Mom and Buried doesn’t like the perversion of the joyous Christmas season into an oppressive atmosphere that’s like something out of 1984, but she’s kidding herself if she doesn’t think we’ll be employing the “naughty or nice” gambit sooner or later. The Elf on the Shelf is merely the trendy conduit for that fear.
  3. Bribery
    Speaking of Santa… if threats don’t work, perhaps your children can be bought with the toys he brings? Every parent employs some form of bribery: one more bite and then you get dessert; If you stop whining maybe we can go to the park. Obviously these are counterproductive and usually serve to reinforce his negative behavior, giving him the idea that he deserves a reward for every little thing he does. But they can be hard to resist, if only for the instant gratification they bring, for both parent and child. At least when you finally give him the chocolate for which he’s been begging, his mouth will be shut for a minute or two.
  4. Yelling
    I mostly do this into a pillow because we don’t our son to grow up in that kind of environment. Besides, all it usually does is stun him into silence for three seconds, before he unleashes the cry of a banshee. That’s no good for anyone. The funny thing is, I don’t want to grow up in that kind of environment either, but that hasn’t stopped the kid has it? Kids are such HYPOCRITES. toothpastefordinner.com, toothpaste for dinner, yelling, parenting, raising kids, fathers, sons, discipline, christmas, parenting
  5. _______
    This one’s blank because I don’t actually have five methods for controlling children. Do you? In fact, only one of those I’ve mentioned really works, and that’s the first one, and that only works in a theoretical “once I call my wife in I flee the scene so can’t actually confirm whether it works or not,” out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of way. I’d ask my wife if my sneaky hand-off works, but her lawyers informed me we won’t be speaking until the mediation.

Toddlers are unruly, and when they’re this young, there’s not a lot to be done about it. Despite my physical and mental superiority, my son has the upper hand most of the time. I have yet to find something that truly works, and I’ve been pulling out all the stops. I’m afraid until everyone (my wife, Dr. Phil, the cops) lightens up and allows a little bit of harmless spanking, we’re gonna be living Children of the Corn.

Just kidding. I’d never hit my son.

But I will punch the hell out of a pillow when he’s not looking.


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3 thoughts on “How To Control Your Children

  1. As the father of twin puppetmasters, I feel your pain. One of the ways I dealt with my boys unruliness was to talk with them. By that I don’t mean I could get them to listen to me, or see my side of things, but the excuses and rationals and min-boggling innocence they through my way always really diffused me because they were so damn cute.
    Don’t yell… I know, now… don’t yell. It just scares them.

  2. Repetition. Not discussion. (This is courtesy of my therapist, so enjoy it for free.)
    kid: Can I watch TV?
    me: No. You must eat your breakfast.
    kid: Why?
    me: Time for breakfast.
    kid: I’m tired
    me: Time for breakfast.
    kid: What about Lucky Charms?
    me: repeat, repeat, repeat

    Don’t negotiate. Don’t argue. Don’t allow them to take control. The first time I did this with my ten year old, she turned around and said, “I know what you’re doing. I heard the therapist. I’ll let it work this time, but don’t expect it again.” If it works for you, maybe at least one of us can receive the benefit of my copay.

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