Behavior & Discipline

The Easiest Fix to Ending Toddler Power Struggles


Ice cream pajamas. These adorable tiny PJs have been the bane of my existence for the past month. They are undeniably sweet, sprinkled with pink and purple ice cream cones and popsicles. Soft and whimsical, they’re the jammies my 2-year-old reaches for every single night. It’s part and parcel of flexing her newfound independence, making swift and decisive decisions without my input. But this pajama set is summer attire—and in our century-old fixer-upper, the winter months practically call for a bedtime hat and scarf. So cue the power struggle.

As any mom of a toddler can attest, “I can do it myself” is a phrase that is bandied about with frustrating frequency. And while I love nudging my toddler into self-reliance, I also need to make sure she’s healthy, safe, and warm. So each time my 2-year-old would pull open her dresser drawer, I would hold my breath and silently will her into anything with long sleeves. As you can imagine, that hasn’t worked once, and I have always found myself up against her steely resolve.


Source: @mrsnipple_


My Lightbulb Moment

Then, it finally dawned on me: why was I submitting myself to these nightly arguments-turned-scream-fests, when I could simply remove the pajamas from the drawer entirely?


Why was I giving my kid options that we would inevitably fight over?


It’s such a simple solution that, frankly, I’m almost embarrassed to type it, but it’s widely applicable to life with young children. If we don’t want them to get into something, whether it’s off-season clothing or an extra cupcake, just don’t have it available. Pack it away, making sure they have plenty of other options to choose from. Preparing your little one’s space in this way gives them the freedom they crave within the limits you’re comfortable with.

One thing’s for certain. When my little one rifles through her pajama drawer tonight searching for her tucked-away favorites, we are in for a roller coaster of emotions: anger, perhaps? Abject horror? I’m not sure. But I’m confident I’ll be feeling profound relief. See you in the spring, ice cream PJs.


Read More: How to Convince Your Toddler to Actually Listen to You