All little kids HATE having their nails clipped by their parents - especially toddlers. My son would cry, wriggle, run, kick, hit, whatever to get out of it. I have tried all of the tricks. He sees right through them.
Last time I cut his nails, I stumbled on something. My son was having a fit, crying and pulling away when I mentioned how I cut the toe nails of his favorite rabbit the night before without issue. He froze and thought. My fear was that he was going to call me on this. His rabbit has a blanket for a body, no toes whatsoever. Instead, he asked questions. "Did he cry?" No, I answered. "Rabbit watched me and asked questions." The rest of the session was calm.
So tonight, I thought, here we go. I have got this. He saw the pouch where I stored the clippers. It was coming! He cried and begged no! Then I told him how his rabbit talked to me today about how his nails were hurting him when he slept. "When you hold your rabbit close in the middle of the night, you are scratching him and it hurts." He thought. I picked up the rabbit so that he could examine his nails.
Then, it happened. My son sat there quietly while I trimmed both this toe and finger nails. As I trimmed, I thanked him for being so calm and how this will keep him from hurting his rabbit as they slept. When it was done (a whole 2 minutes later), my son stood on the ground, turned around and THANKED ME for trimming his nails so that he would not hurt his rabbit.
This made my heart soar! Why? 1) No traumatic reaction to trimming his nails. 2) He demonstrated such care over hurting another thing. It made me so proud.