If you have a toddler you know how extremely frustrating it can be to get them to listen to you. It’s something I battle every day with my 2-year-old son. It’s very obvious that he knows what I am asking, however, he clearly chooses not to listen to me. I have searched through the internet and books and have found some great tips on how to get your toddler to listen better. Here are 10 ways you can try to get those stubborn little toddlers to do what you ask.
1. Eye Level & Eye Contact
When your toddler is doing something you don’t want them to be doing and you’re across the room telling them to stop, the odds are that they will not listen to you. They most likely aren’t looking at you and they know that you can’t do anything about it since you’re across the room. However, if you get up, go over to them, get down on their level and talk to them face to face they will be more likely to listen to you the first time instead of on the 4th or 5th time you ask them to stop from across the room. Make eye contact with them and let them know that you are serious about what you are asking. You don’t need to yell or raise your voice, just speak to them in a firm tone so they know that you mean business.
2. Use Physical Touch
When you get down on your child’s level to talk to them, make sure to touch them in some way such as holding onto their arm or putting your hands on their shoulders. I’m not saying you need to hurt your child and grab them as hard as you can, but firmly putting your hand on their arm will let them know that you are in charge and that when you ask something it needs to be done. This works great when they turn away from you when you’re trying to talk to them. You can firmly turn them around and hold onto them as you talk to them on their level. The goal is not to scare you child, but simply to show them that you are the one they need to listen to.
3. Give Your Child Acceptable Choices
Children are more likely to respond better if they are given a choice of something to do. Try to state all your directions of what you want them to do in choices, if possible. Instead of asking “Can you put your toys away?” which will most likely result in a “NO,” ask them, “Which toys do you want to pick up first, your trucks or your books?” Asking them questions like this doesn’t allow for them to tell you no. It also lets them think that they have the control over the situation because they get to choose for themselves what they want to do.
4. Don’t Yell
Children are more likely to listen if you speak to them in a nice tone rather than yelling or screaming at them. This works great when you speak to them on their level and make eye contact. When they are able to see the serious expression on your face there is no need to yell. They will be able to know from your face that this is a serious matter and that they need to listen.
5. Give Positive Reinforcement
Children need positive reinforcement when they have done something right. Make sure to praise them and tell them how proud you are of them for listening and doing what you asked. You can give them a hug, kiss, or maybe even a special treat. They will remember how good it felt to do the right thing by listening to you and will be more likely to do it again in the future.
6. Keep Your Language Simple And Positive
Often times we forget that even though 2 and 3 year olds can understand us, they often times can’t understand when we get too complicated in our language. Try to keep your directions short and simple so they don’t get lost in the directions. Telling them to “Please walk” will be better understood by a toddler rather than “I don’t want you to run down the driveway while you’re wearing those shoes.”
7. Give A Reasonable Consequence For Not Listening
When you want your child to do something, communicate a consequence that will happen if they don’t listen to you. Say things such as, “If you touch that again you’re going to have to go to time out,” or “If you put that toy in your mouth again, I’m going to take it away.” Giving them a consequence for something they do wrong will let them know that if they don’t listen to you, something bad will happen. It also allows them to make the choice for themselves. You have told them that if they do something they will be punished for it. If they choose to do it again, that is their choice. Just be sure to follow through on your consequences and don’t make them too outrageous. Saying that you are going to leave Disneyland if they keep running is most likely not going to happen when you’ve spent a lot of money to be there for the day. If you don’t follow through on a consequence like that they will learn that you don’t mean what you say and will be less likely to listen in the future.
8. Make It Fun
Toddlers love playing and giving them a reason to do something fun will motivate them to do it. If you make a game out of cleaning up toys or sing a song and do a dance while you do it, chances are they will be more likely to do it. It works like a charm every time.