Have you ever wondered if your child was trying to pit you against your spouse or having a tantrum to see how you would react? Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician and author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411, and her co-author Denise Fields have come up with some great code names for toddlers, and they all have to do with the ways that your little ones try to exert their power. See if you recognize any of these:
Stormin' Norman: This toddler has a tantrum and watches her parents cave in. This is very powerful in public places.
The Negotiator: This clever toddler tries to make one-sided deals with adults.
The A Factor: This youngster will annoy Mom or Dad until he gets his way.
The Guilt Card: This toddler uses a technique that works especially well with single or working moms: "Why can't I have such and such? You're such a bad parent!"
The Sting: This little one sets up one parent to unknowingly challenge the other.
Once you realize that you've lost control and can identify the manipulation tactic being used, Dr. Brown has some advice for how to regain your parental authority.
Control the Storm
When your toddler has a tantrum in public you may want to run and hide. Dr. Brown says that the best bet is to stop the tantrum before it starts. To do that, parents need to be proactive and have realistic expectations of what a child can handle. Let your toddler know ahead of time what errands need to be done. If you have more on your to-do list, but your toddler is getting hungry or tired, don't push it. If your child cannot handle too much at once, she will show that both to you and everyone at the shopping center.
You can also be proactive by bringing a bag of tricks to keep your toddler occupied while you run errands. Allison Schut, mother to 19-month-old Nathon, makes sure that she has crackers and a juice box handy to temper any outbursts. It's hard to whine with a mouthful! Small books and toys also keep toddlers occupied.