I learned a fantastic fatherhood tip from Stephen Wood's book Legacy: A Father's Handbook for Raising Godly Children. He explains the "death grip" or rather "love grip" that will keep your toddler from squirming without hurting or apply pressure to the child. The child cannot get out and dad doesn't even have to squeeze him or hurt him.
Here's how it works:
- Dad, sit down.
- Place toddler on left thigh so that the child's legs straddle your thigh.
- Take right arm and cross over the child and then grasp your left knee.
- Take left hand and grab your right forearm (or right elbow if the child tries to fight)
The great thing about this hold is that the father applies pressure to this own frame (dad's knees and elbows) so that there no pressure on the child. The child is stuck.
WARNING: Do NOT try this for the first time while at Mass. The child will quickly learn that he is stuck and if he's a fighter he'll start to move and try to get out - which could be embarrassing. He'll also scream and yell about it.
So when you're praying the Rosary at night, try it out. My three year old fought the "love grip" for 15 minutes without stopping. I was literally sweating and not able to concentrate on the Rosary. However, he learned that he could not get out of this grip. Finally he submitted. Now during Rosary or Mass, when I put this grip on him, he knows it's over. He doesn't squirm. Resistence is futile
By the way, Wood's book Legacy is the best parenting book that I've ever read. It lacks all the pscho-babble of some modern parenting books and gives simple masculine and paternal advice. If you have to read just one book read Legacy.