A nightmare on your street

If you live with a person who’s about two years old, you’re probably familiar with the weird things we say to get them to do things. Or, um, to stop doing things.

And when we do this, we’re told it’s really, really bad to tell kids NOT to do something, since they’ll just think they should do that thing. So merely telling your child, “Get out of the frigging street,” becomes an exercise in advanced formal logic, but that’s probably great for Alzheimer’s prevention, too. Which is fabulous, because the stress of having a kid who’s 2 when you’re more than 23 or so is likely to give you a stroke anyway. You might as well not have Alzheimer’s and have a stroke.

You get to pick one.

Like, say, when the kid pulls the cat’s tail. Response: “No pulling the cat’s tail!”

Oops, that’s a negative.

“Put the cat’s tail down! Good.”

Nope, that kind of implies that it was OK to torture a small animal in the first place. Even gives him a little praise, just to make sure that he will enjoy his life as the loner who likes to build shallow graves.

The right response? “Gentle! Gentle! We pet the kitty this way!”

Someone without a kid would be all, “What? They just got away with it.”

To which you would respond, yes, but it only takes 50 to 500 repetitions, and it works! Which is a pretty slow but effective way to brainwash your offspring. Yep, I’m brainwashing my kids, so they don’t fling the cat down the stairs, flood the house, climb the stove, peel open all the Babybels and leave them under the couch, eat frozen broccoli straight from the freezer, and climb into the washing machine and guzzle fabric softener. I’d say it’s a pretty noble cause.

And it could even work on monsters.

Horror movies would be a great place to teach the skills of positive parenting. When the zombies come to get you, screaming or telling them not to bite you is not the best strategy. Instead, try, “We don’t eat people! We eat apples.” Or, “I don’t think your friends like it when you moan like that. Can you please use that polite voice I like so much?”

When Freddy from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” appears and implies he’s going to kill you, just try the toddler-parent approach. “Welcome to prime time!!!” he bellows.

“Is that so?! That sounds scary,” in your best bored mom voice. Obviously, he’s doing it for the shock value. And he’s probably just irritable from that untreated eczema he’s had for three decades. He’s just feeling a little fussy, and he never sleeps. Maybe he needs to poop. Better call the ped.

And while you’re at it, dial 911. You’re gonna need help once he carves you up. Freddy never gives anyone 50 to 500 chances. Much like a toddler.–Jillian O’Connor

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