How to Wrangle a Screaming 4-Year-Old

More specifically, this post will help you wrangle the screaming 4-year-old into swimming trunks that he doesn’t want to wear.  Why doesn’t he want to wear them?  Well, duh!, because you are torturing him with plans of forced water play and sprinkler fun.  What self-respecting 4-year-old wants to put up with that kind of crap?
So, let’s set the scene first.  The unsuspecting parents—who, by the way, think they are doing something WAY cool and fun—announce that all children in the household should proceed to the nearest closet and choose a swim garment for the day.  They announce that each child should don the swim garment of his or her choice and then proceed safely and in an orderly fashion toward the front door.
For most children, this is enough information.  The word ‘swimsuit’ or anything similar typically suggests that there is fun to be had, so there is usually not a fight when it comes to donning this garment.  But, should you find yourself parenting the rare, alien child that thinks water will either a) make him melt or b) tear him away from the Wii for an unacceptable amount of time, you may need to take extreme measures in order to get this child appropriately clothed in swim attire.  (I’m just sayin’…)
Keep in mind that these steps may need to be tweaked and finessed based on the age, agility, and/or willingness of the child to bite into your flesh like he’s a man-eating freaking dinosaur.  Also, I think I might be required by law somewhere to mention that unless you are a professional, you should not try these stunts on your own.
Ok, without further ado:
How to Get Swim Trunks On the Uncooperative 4-Year-Old
  • Try bribery.  I like to start with candy or juice, then move to soda.  If that doesn’t work, try offering him a dollar.  If that still doesn’t work, bribe him with something like this.  “If you put on your swim trunks, Mommy will promise to stop beating you and yelling at you.”
  • While child is distracted in apoplectic fit, quickly (this is key—you must be very quick) pull his pants off and prepare the swim trunks.  Warning:  This will most likely cause a high-pitched siren-like wail to emit from the subject, but if you can stand it, you are one step closer to “trunking” him.
  • If your child wears a rashguard or sun shirt, this just adds to the enjoyment.  I’ll warn you by saying it’s not as easy to remove the shirt as it was to remove the pants.  First, the child is agitated, and second, those little arms can manage some serious flailing action.  But, here’s what you do.  Quickly, grab the bottom of the shirt and pull upward.  The child will probably begin to hug himself with his own arms in an effort to maintain possession of the shirt—you must thread one small arm at a time through the sleeve holes until both arms are free.  Then, do a quick upward yank over the head, once more eliciting an animal-type yowling, typically accompanied by a stomping, thrashing movement.  Do not be alarmed.  This is normal.
You now have a very naked and very angry child.  Congratulations, you’re halfway there!  Now you just have to don the correct gear for your fun day in the sun, and you’ll be ready to go.  Follow the next few steps to successfully don the swimwear:
  • Take a deep breath, sit back, and laugh.  If your child is still throwing the mother of all fits while he is butt naked, this is pretty darn funny, and you should take a moment to enjoy it.
  • Moving right along, to get the trunks on your little sweet pea, you can try to coax him to step into them the easy way, but chances are, you’ll need to sit his rear on the floor to wrangle one leg at a time through the leg holes.  If this is the case, you’ll need to catch him off-guard by moving quickly and efficiently.  Fake to the left, then go in low and to the right—take him out at the knee.  Once he’s flat on his back, throw one leg over his torso, making it impossible for him to wriggle free.  (Yes, he will really be screaming now.)
  • Maneuver one leg at a time into the trunks.  Chances are, once you get the first leg in, it will kick itself free of the trunks when you move to the second leg.  You’ll want to keep a hand on the first leg to make sure this doesn’t happen.  Once both legs are securely in the trunks, stand your little pumpkin up and yank the trunks in a quick, upward motion, securing them at his waist.  (Now he will be stomping, biting, screaming, and flinging snot at anything that moves.  This is not normal.  But then again, nothing about our lives is normal in the least, so you know, just roll with it.)
  • The final step is the most difficult one.  (Note to whoever makes those tiny little rashguards—Really?!  Really?!  Do they need to be that stinkin’ tight?  Because they are really hard to get on fit-throwing 4-year-olds.)  Placing the rashguard on the flailing child can be equated with trying to shove toothpaste back into the tube.  Almost impossible.  You’ll want to hold the bottom of the rashguard open with your hand and one of your feet, while, with your other hand, you maneuver the screaming, snotty child through the teeny-tiny neck hole.  This is actually handy, because the super-tight neck hole serves to wipe away some of the errant snot that has almost certainly begun to run down the little guy’s face by this point.
  • Once his head has poked through the neck hole, you just have the arms left.  Almost there!  Quickly, before he knows what’s happening, grab one of his little chicken wings and stretch the fabric over it.  Do the same for the second arm.  He will probably be kicking you throughout this process, so once again, it’s good to be quick.
Voilá, all done!  You now have a 4-year old who’s ready for some fun in the water!  Remember, once you have him dressed, it’s very important that you pick him up and dash to the car immediately, thereby removing any opportunity he might have to remove the articles of clothing you have worked so hard to get him into.
Don’t forget to remind him lovingly—as he’s trying to deafen you from the backseat—that Mommy says we’re going to SHUT the EFF UP and WE’RE GOING to HAVE some EFFING FUN!  So there.  Dammit, we’re going to play and have fun.

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