When You Hear: "You can't make me!"
Don't say: "Oh, yes I can!"
The whine-stopper: Try lightening the mood, advises Schutta: "Lightly tickle your child and jokingly say, 'I can because I'm the Tickle Monster!'" Or turn your request into a game: "Let's see if you can put your clothes in the hamper in two minutes." Use a timer and let him run for it. Simply saying, "Oh, yes I can" rarely gets you anywhere; it actually sets the stage for a major power struggle.
If these tactics don't work, come up with a consequence. Calmly say, "You have 10 minutes to put away your toys or we won't go to the playground later" -- and then stick to it. "This nips defiance in the bud and makes it clear that you're the one in charge," says Schutta.
Margaret Schwartz thought of a quick comeback last year when her son Nicky refused to wear his seat belt. "He hated putting it on and I had to come up with an explanation that would be rational to a 3-year-old," says Schwartz. "So I told him that if the police find out that he's not wearing his seat belt, they'd get very mad at me. Now he puts it on the minute he gets in the car."