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The 1 Phrase You Should Never, Ever Say To A Toddler

In a recent Instagram video, Deena Margolin ― a licensed child therapist and half of the toddler experts duo Big Little Feelings with Kristin Gallant ― describes a scene familiar to anyone who has ever tried to convince a small child to leave a playground, birthday party, or any other fun scene at which they’d rather stay.

You say it’s time to leave, but your toddler ignores you and continues playing. So you start walking away. Your toddler ignores you, perhaps looking up from time to time to see if you’re still there. Eventually, you say, “OK, bye!” And you begin to walk away. Usually, at this point, the toddler will scream “No!” and come running after you, allowing you to finally leave together.

We’ve all had a moment where we’ve either done this or thought about it — perhaps pushing away some reservations about scaring our child.

But while this strategy is tempting, and maybe even effective (at least in the short-term), Margolin and other experts recommend that we refrain from using it.

Why do toddlers bring us to this point?

You don’t see older children or teens running after their parents in a panic after they’ve announced, “Fine, I’m leaving without you then.” Older kids are more likely to call your bluff, perhaps with the flourish of an eye roll. But there’s also just something about toddlers that can bring normally high-functioning parents to their knees.

“You can love your toddler more than anything in the entire world andhave days when you’re pushed to your limit and you reach a breaking point,” Margolin and Gallant told HuffPost in an email.

When it comes to convincing them to leave when they don’t want to, there are a couple of things going on developmentally that make this tricky for toddlers.


Read more on huffpost.com