Play the Wrong-Name Game
This one is similar to the shock-them-with-silliness strategy above. When you're locked in an argument, insert a different name-one they know is wrong-into the conversation.
For example: When Scott Alexander's oldest child refused to stop playing to go pick up her brother from preschool, he said, "Come on, we have to go get Elmo!" The craziness of that statement ("Daddy, Elmo's not at Tommy's school!") distracted her from what she had been doing, allowing Alexander to get her out the door without a fight. (Of course, if your child is old enough to appreciate Elmo but not old enough to realize he can't possibly be waiting at the school, you're asking for trouble, but you'll at least get your child in the car.)I use this trick when my kids are insisting that only Mommy can pour their milk or read a story. "But I am Mommy!" I insist in a high-pitched voice. This usually provokes screams of laughter, which moves things along somewhat. Or, when my daughter is whining, I'll say, "Now, baby Charles, I said no whining." "I'm not Charles, I'm Chloe!" "Zoe? Who's Zoe?" "I'm Chloe!" By then, she's forgotten what she was whining about.