Reasoning With a Two-Year-Old

Apres Puddle

It’s been a bit of a frustrating evening for Vivian, a two year old who is slightly out of sorts with a disrupted schedule and a late dinner. It was a bit of a struggle getting her to eat even her favourite lasagne. Every little slight, or failure to meet her demands, was met with a lot of caterwauling, and even occasional tears on her part.

Well, we finally have her calmed down eating yoghurt. And Vivian decides that she would like to take her bowl downstairs to eat in front of the t.v. Or, as she puts it:

“Take bowl, eat downstair?” she asks, leaning forward eagerly.

Now, we don’t allow this. But we’re not in the mood for yet another battle. So I try reasoning with her.

Heh. Heh.

“Why don’t you eat upstairs?” I ask.

She blinks at me, then says, “Take bowl, eat downstair?”

“But why don’t you eat upstairs?”

“Take bowl, eat downstair?”

“But why don’t you eat upstairs?”

“Take bowl, eat downstair?”

“But why?”

“Take bowl, eat downstair?”

This has been cut for brevity.

And after about the fifteenth iteration of this or so, that’s when the revelation hits me. Vivian’s reasoning with me. In her mind, the logic runs like this:

“Can I take bowl, eat downstair? I like eat downstair. So I should take bowl, eat downstair? I no like eat upstair, cause I want eat downstair. So, can I take bowl, eat downstair?”

Or, to put it more succinctly: Want = Need.

Vivian is especially cute when she tries to pitch her wants as new ideas. Yesterday, we were encouraging her to go to bed, which she did not want to do. And she said she didn’t want to go to bed, she wants to go downstairs. So we’re offering her all of these choices to help her go to bed, like reading her to sleep or giving her a bath.

“Bath or story, Vivian,” we say. “Bath or story.”

And she looks up at us, puts her finger to her chin and says, “I have idea! We could go downstair!”

I’ll take that under advisement, I think. “Bath or story, Vivian. Bath or story.”

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