I just have to share with you something that my cousin Mary reported to me today. She read my post about How to Charm a Stubborn Toddler, which talks about using a story to help your child imagine that something they don't want to do is going to be amazing and fun.
Mary said she was going to give it a try. It took her a few days to find the right moment:
I tried this today and it was amazing! [My daughter] didn't want to go pick up [her brother] from preschool. So, I asked her if she was ready to ride her blue unicorn. Her eyes lit up and she jumped right up and ran out the door. :-) Although she did seem slightly disappointed when she realized it was her same old stroller. LOL. But we did have fun continuing to imagine on our way.First, that is awesome and hilarious!
Second, there is a fine line between pretending and lying. Definitely make sure that when you apply the storytelling technique I described, you use a fantasy element (i.e. a unicorn) and not real elements (i.e. a friend's minivan that your kid loves). Pretending with your child, and teaching them that "this is imaginary" actually teaches your kid the difference between pretending and lying, unless you use these opportunities to lie to your child. Please don't do that. Keep it fantastical and imaginary and help your young one learn to pretend, not deceive.
Third, I think that continuing to imagine is one of the big keys for getting this strategy to work well. If you just pretend with your child until they've done what you want and then you drop it, they're gonna know. If you keep playing with them, they'll not only realize you wanted them to comply (toddlers are smart!) but also realize that you wanted to play with them. And playing and talking with grown-ups helps kids feel loved.we are still getting a lot of use out of unicorn stories ourselves.
Fourth, we are still getting a lot of use out of unicorn stories over here. Just today Jubilee didn't want to have lotion put on, and she desperately needed it. (Anyone else have a toddler with eczema?) So as I began to rub her down I told her a story about her unicorn, Princess Pinky Pie and how her mommy explained to her that lotion was good and Princess Pinky Pie then gladly let her mom put lotion on her. After the story was done, Jubilee still complained that the lotion felt strange, but she at least let me put it on her.
A few minutes later, I told her the story of a unicorn who was brushing her teeth. I think you can guess what that story helped us accomplish.
I don't think the story always has to match the plot of what you're doing -- in fact I think it usually works better for me if it doesn't match. But it is much easier to just change reality slightly, isn't it?