Q: My four-year-old won’t follow the most reasonable requests — things like going to the bathroom before we leave the house, or sitting at the dinner table. I have tried explaining that her behaviour is not appropriate, but she just whines or throws a tantrum, and I end up resorting to bribery. A: Bribery just doesn’t work over the long term because your daughter will only demand bigger and better bribes in exchange for her compliance.
Instead, start by making sure she knows the rules. When she’s calm, tell her how you expect her to behave at the table, and that using the bathroom before you go out together is part of the routine.
When she acts up, don’t try to engage her in a fruitless conversation, but offer her a choice. She can settle down at the table or leave. Keep in mind it could be that she is actually finished eating and just can’t sit still any longer. Either way, allowing her to leave the table and play quietly or look at books is more sensible than forcing her to stay in her chair.
Ignore her whining and yelling, and just move forward. Once your daughter sees that her shenanigans are a waste of time, she’ll settle down.