Parenting Tip #1: To decrease tantrums and ease transitions, give your toddler 5, 2, and 1 minute warnings before switching gears. Use this often to get them acclimated and closely watch the clock to stay true to the actual time so that your toddler begins to get a sense of how long those increments actually are.
Example: "Zoe, we're going to be leaving the park in 5 minutes!", "2 minutes!", "1 minute!", "Okay! Time to go!".
Intended Consequence: We've mostly had great success with this one. Even when she's been mighty unhappy to leave a favorite activity, consistently using this warning system for a few months reduced almost all transition tantrums to moderate squawking. She knows that once the countdown begins, we mean it.
Unintended Consequence: Unfortunately, she tries to implement this herself, at the least desirable time, with the usual toddler understanding of how time works.
(I observe the telltale stare followed by a small grunt.)
Me: "Quick Zoe, let's go sit on the potty!"
Zoe: "In FIVE minutes!"
Me: "Nope. Right now, darlin'."
Zoe: "In TWO minutes!"
Me: "No, sweetheart, NOW!"
(eau de poo begins to waft throughout the room)
Zoe: "FIVE minutes?"
Parenting Tip #2: When asking a question of your toddler, prompt them to respond politely by finishing your question and then adding '"Yes, please" or "No, thank you"?'. Remind them to thank people when appropriate.
Example: Me: "Zoe, would you like some more spelt, amaranth broccoli loaf? 'Yes, please' or 'No, thank you'?"
Zoe: "Yes, please!"
(hahaha! AS IF. The only food that receives a "yes please" would be something in the cheese or cookie categories.)
Intended Consequence: Zoe is still a bit shy with others and often forgets to thank people when they give her things. However, with us she has done very well and answers us about half the time with either "yes, please" or "no, thank you" UNPROMPTED. *pats clueless but hopeful self on back*
Unintended Consequence: Zoe has become the politeness police. After sitting down for lunch yesterday, Zoe looked at me thoughtfully and said "Thank you for making lunch, Mommy". Which was so lovely and heartwarming and sweet and-oh wait- she wasn't done... "Say thank you, Daddy." she instructed, looking at CG, who, incidentally, helped me make said lunch and deserved some thanks of his own.
Sheesh, be careful what you wish for and all that.