The words “no, Max” must have left my mouth 22 million times. It made no difference.
At full pelt, my two-year-old son ran at a tower of toilet rolls, smashing the packs in all directions as his manic laugh boomed into every corner of the supermarket.
It’s great fun knocking over towers of bog roll. It’s even more fun to do it when mum has said “no”. I get it. But for the love of the parenting gods, couldn’t my little dude just listen to me once in his short little life?
And I know I’m not alone. Every parent I talk to could wax lyrical about how their young children create such euphoric levels of love while also plunging them into blood-boiling despair when they dig their heels in. My “no” means nothing when he has his cheeky, misbehaving “no!”.
I won’t dress it up. I have a serious patience tester on my hands. The words ‘strong willed’ have been used constantly since a few days after he was born and he bucked off the swaddled blankets wrapped by a midwife known as the “best swaddler in the ward”.
I can’t wait until his iron will, mixed with his low level needs for sleep, means he has the perfect stamina to be a CEO or maybe even Prime Minister one day. But until then, what?
Well, my prayers were answered when I just kind of stumbled upon a simple parenting hack that has managed to diminish the daily battles and ensured the supermarket stand-offs have disappeared.
Yep, I’m winning over here, people. Winning.
So, what is this magic I talk of? What wizardry could possibly work to get a toddler to step into formation? It’s called the “cool method”.
Meeting defiance with defiance doesn’t work, I’ve found. And in my experience, neither does the “options” method. When I tried it and asked Max what shoes he wanted to wear, out of an option of blue and red his answer was: “Diggers?”
So instead I’ve just started being, like, totally cool.
If he cries when I put dinner out because it isn’t cut properly, I just say “Cool, I’ll pop it in the kitchen until you’re ready” and it takes maybe a minute before he is asking for it back.
When he wants to run into a tower of toilet rolls, I turn on my heel and simply say, “Cool, I’m going this way, Max” and he soon starts to follow me.