How to end sippy cup power struggles forever!
By Karen Braveheart
In this blog, you’ll learn how to turn a stressful situation into a loving moment by teaching your toddler about
To follow their intuition
Practical tips that take only a few minutes to set up in your home and work 💯 of the time
The sippy cup wars happened in my home when my munchkins were little. I had no idea they were coming. We had ones with soft spouts, with hard spouts, with flip top straws, and regular cups too.
Sophia loved Disney princesses, and we had all of them.
When I asked her which one she’d like to use for dinner, she’d choose the blue Cinderella cup. I’d grab it from an upper kitchen cabinet, hand it to her, and then two seconds later, she’d want a different one.
Mom- I want the pink princess one!
The situation escalated with her brothers. Ryan and Justin picked out all kinds of sippy cups- we had red, blue, yellow, cups with trucks on them, Elmo, Mickey Mouse, and other fun characters too, and I kept them in the upper cupboard.
If my boys wanted to use a princess cup or my daughter wanted Elmo, I honored their choice. I never had any “gender” typing in my home.
It is always about what makes you happy. What feels good to you. I supported what they naturally gravitated to.
To avoid fights, we’d switch up the order of who chooses the supply cup first that day. The. Ext day would be a different line up.
I set these expectations with the munchkins cooperation so they could feel empowered and in control when making their choice.
I thought this solved the problem, but it didn’t. I ran into a challenge with Ryan and Justin. Full tantrum mode!
This is what happened. Justin would choose the red one and then see his older brother choose the blue one. Then, the younger brother would be so upset that he didn’t have what his older brother had and wanted to switch.
Full on screaming tantrum in less than 3 seconds.
This was a thing!?!?! I had no idea. I was just so stressed out!
Looking back on it now, as I write this, I could have chosen to buy two cups of the same color, and problem solved. But, I’m sure one of the munchkins would have said they didn’t like having the same one as a sibling, Haha.
How do you handle this in your home? Drop a comment below and share with us.
Here’s the thoughts that went through my mind
What do I do now?
Do I say no to their 2nd request?
Do I honor their change of mind?
If yes, how many times?
Once they are in a full blown fit at the dinner table, do I give in to shut them up?
Should I give them a 3rd choice simply because their screaming was bringing me to my last nerve?
What’s really going on with your kid’s brain development
When the sippy cup choice thing first started happening, it took me by surprise. I was like who cares what cup you drink out of- just drink!!!
But, to my child, a toddler learning to be more independent and make their own choices, it’s everything.
When you understand that as a parent, you can see the situation as an opportunity for growth.
"I wanted to honor their choice, but not at the cost of my sanity"
It took me some time to figure out the right love boundary to put in place.
I asked myself, what’s really going on here? It’s not a power play. It’s not about my toddler intentionally stressing me out..
"It’s about meeting my toddler where their developing brain was at- learning to make an independent choice"
And there’s gonna be a learning curve.
In making this choice, I wanted them to learn to listen to their intuition and choose the sippy cup that made them happiest- the one that makes them feel peace inside.
Being young though, they didn’t understand object permanence. When an object is placed in front of them and then removed from sight again, it can upset them.
I needed to create a balance with my own needs for them to chose one sippy cup per meal and stay with that one. They were learning to respect my needs too.
So, I had to be creative and balance everyone’s interests.
My quick and easy solution that works 100% of the time!
Here’s my 3 step solution
- Find a fun one minute timer
- Designate a drawer just for sippy cups your kids can reach themselves
- Let them handle everything themselves!
One that your child can see moves to count down the 60 seconds. I used an egg shaped timer which the kids loved. Put it on the counter.
This was also about me teaching them to choose the one that was most fun for them first.This taught my munchins to follow their heart- to trust their intuition to make this decision.
So, I decided to change the location of where I stored the sippy cups in my kitchen. I used to put them in an upper cabinet, and I would reach up and grab the one they selected.
I moved them to a lower drawer that my children could reach and easily open. I chose one farthest from the stove and closest to the kitchen table.
The love boundary was simple. When they were first learning about choices, I said- ok- here’s an egg timer.
I showed them how it worked and set 1 minute (age appropriate time). When the bell went off, they had to make their final selection and it couldn’t be changed.
They got to feel and touch the sippy cups and then make the choice that made them most happy.
My kids loved setting the egg timer themselves. I saw the look of empowerment and being in control of their decision process that it brought them. Huge smiles all around!
I told them that had until the egg timer was over-60 seconds to choose. If the timer went off and they didn’t chose, I’d chose one for them. They’d get what they’d get and couldn’t throw a fit. (at least I said that- there were times they got upset, but I held firm to the consequence and they learned to act within the 60 seconds.)
There were beautiful learning moments here that I remember vividly like yesterday.
They learned to choose the sippy cup that made them feel good.
Teaching my children to follow their heart in all of their decisions is teaching my children how to lead a happy and fulfilled life. It comes from within.
One of the ways I taught my kids to follow their heart was by learning about choices just like their choice here of a sippy cup.
With every choice you make, you are either following your heart or not. Do you choose to honor your true heart’s desire in your choices?
Or, maybe you made a mistake in choosing a sippy cup. That’s ok too. My kids learned they’ll have another chance to change it at the next meal.
This got so easy that my munchkins would do this all on their own while I was prepping a meal.
And the best thing is the connections we made because mealtime was filled with peace and love in our home.
I wish that for your home too!
Note: I am in no way advocating for use of a sippy cup. My reference here is about my own kids who used them together with cups with a hard spout, cups with a straw, and regular cups. There’s recent literature that talks about how a sippy cup may impede proper speech development. Please make your own educated choice that’s best for you and your child.
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About the Author Karen Braveheart, CEO
Karen Braveheart is an attorney turned entrepreneur and mom of three who deeply cares about making the world a happier place by changing how we raise our children. Learn more