Friday, November 26, 2010

Reasoning for Three-Year-Olds and Influencing Behavior

I am a very imperfect parent, and I am trying to do better than just “Do this because I said so,” though that is a perfectly acceptable reason now and then. On this note, I had an amusing interchange with my three-year-old this morning that illustrates both my lack of creativity and his delightful reasoning…

Dad (to 3-yr-old who is holding himself): Son, you need to go potty.

3YO: I don't want to go potty.

Dad: Son, you need to go potty.

3YO: No. I don't want to go potty.

Dad: Son, you need to go potty.

3YO (resolutely): No.

Dad (a little steamed): Did you just tell me “no”?

3YO: I don’t want to go potty.

Dad: I know you don’t want to go potty, but you need to.

3YO: No.

Dad (heating up): Ok. Well you can go to the potty, or you go to your room and be all by yourself. [Pregnant pause from Dad while he searches for a more graceful option than just either-or.] Or, you can have a spanking. Which do you want?

3YO (with certainty): I want to go potty.

I’m thinking about the book Nudge that I started but never finished: Sometimes influencing behavior is just about asking the right questions.