Five Tips Friday: Getting your toddler to listen

Toddlers aren't very good listeners. Especially when they realize they can loudly say 'NO' to everything, or simply ignore you. It's not the greatest feeling being sidetracked by a person who can't even say 'sidetracked'.

Yet, tasks have to be done and it's in everyone's best interests if your toddler cooperates. But how do you get them to do anything without falling into a power struggle?

There is no single solution, but there are a few things you can do so that your toddler is more likely to comply, and make it less of a struggle.

Tips for getting your toddler to listen and cooperate.

These are my five tips for getting your toddler to listen to you:

1. Give specific directions

Sometimes, saying something like 'Put your toys away' simply makes it too overwhelming for a toddler. Instead, say specific things like 'Put your cars in that box' and so on. Toddlers need to be given exact instructions. Tasks that may seem simple to us may still be complex for them.

2. Don't give too many options

It's good to give your toddler a choice, but too many of them, and they will either not pay attention, or look for a way out. For example, if your toddler won't eat their meal, don't give a way out by asking them to eat something else, or eat later. But you can ask them to take a few bites of one of the items on their plate.

3. Discuss the consequences

Even with toddlers, logic can pay off sometimes. Rather than simply making them do something, discuss in a gentle way the consequences of not doing an activity. If they won't brush, for instance, you can talk about tooth decay and how it would hurt. Or how they could fall sick if they don't wear a jacket. Remember, to picture the consequences for them in a way they understand.

4. Rephrase what you're saying

At times, putting your request in another way works. Probably because your toddler may think you're saying something completely different this time! So, instead of asking them to put off the TV, you can say 'Let's look at the birds outside'. Or if they want to avoid a bath, ask them if they want to play with bubbles.

5. Give yourself a time out

Toddlers can get you worked up. If they are not complying, just walk away for a few minutes and gather yourself. Yelling rarely gets you anywhere, and the impact is always short-term. Calm down and think of a different approach. Sometimes, reading a book before brushing isn't going to do any harm, is it? Be flexible, and willing to go around routines if things aren't going smoothly.

If you found this useful, check out my post on Seven tips for a calmer toddler, and Six reassuring phrases for toddlers.

Five Tips Friday is a series of posts on five quick tips 
about parenting, blogging, social media, travel, or just about anything!

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Carol Graham said...

All good tips. I couldn't help but think about the woman in the news the past couple days wen she was kicked off a United flight because her toddler wouldn't be quiet. That's her side of the story -- but certainly not the whole truth. She needs to read your post!

Nina G said...

Tarana these are unique and fantastic tips. I especially like rephrasing. I think parents get too caught up being 'the parent' that they forget there may be a better way of saying things and getting things done.

Tarana said...

Thanks, Carol! I did feel sorry for her though, toddlers can be difficult when traveling.

Tarana said...

Thanks Nina! Sometimes we just complicate things that can be said simply.

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