How To Get a Toddler to Listen: Proven Parenting Tips for Improved Cooperation

How To Get a Toddler to Listen: Proven Parenting Tips for Improved Cooperation

How To Get a Toddler to Listen:

Proven Parenting Tips for Improved Cooperation

Tips to get your toddler to cooperate more provided by a certified parent coach

Parenting a toddler can be filled with parental frustration as you try to figure out how to get your toddler to listen to you, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out these parenting tips to get your toddler to cooperate and listen better.

Start small, with clear simple instructions

 

It is important to only give one instruction at a time and to stay close to your toddler to ensure compliance in the beginning.

When your toddler is beginning to learn how to cooperate and listen, avoid giving directions when you are on the move, distracted or in a hurry. Instead, make sure you are giving instructions when your child is an arm’s length away or less. Once your toddler grows and learns how to listen, you can work your way up to 3 instructions at once, but remember, they must remain simple.

If your toddler struggles with more instructions or go back to not listening, do not be afraid to drop back to only one instruction at a time and work up their stamina over time. You can also increase your distance from them, but if they regress to not doing a requested behavior then you need to go back to being close to reinforce their need to listen.

Limit distractions

 

Toddlers are not made for multitasking so make sure distractions are limited when you are giving your instructions. This means your child’s head is not buried in a screen or they are not immersed in their play when you are talking.

A toddler’s play is their work and just as you need to get to a good stopping point so you can switch tasks, so does your toddler. If you need to gain your toddler’s attention, make sure to give them a warning about the need for their attention and get down on their level. Visual timers, like from Time Timer*, can be a great way to help toddlers transition to listening or to a different activity.

 

Make demands mean something

 

If you want your toddler to listen, make sure you actually want them to do what you are asking. Meaning you care enough to take the time to follow-up and make sure they complete the task. Otherwise, if you request your toddler do something and then later back off and do it yourself or you give up and let it go, you are sending them mixed signals.

For toddlers, consistency is the key. They need to learn that every time you make a request you expect them to complete the task, not sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. So once you have made the decision that you want your toddler to do something, stay firm to ensure compliance.

This requires you to show them exactly how to do it until they have learned the expected behavior. If they refuse, make sure to break down the task into smaller tasks that are easier to complete. So instead of ‘put your toys in the box’ you might first say ‘find the box’.

Extra parenting tips for transitions

 

Calmly tell your child to take their time with the task, that the next fun thing on the agenda (like reading a book with you) can wait until they are done.

If a child is playing it can be helpful to play with them for a minute or two before transitioning them to the new activity you are requiring.

Make sure to preview what the next activity and expectations will be before making the demand.

Be clear about what you want

 

Toddlers feel more secure when they are told exactly what to do. So instead of telling your child to get ready to go, try telling them ‘put on your shoes, then put on your coat’.

Keep the instructions as a requirement, not a ‘would you like to…’ or ‘how about you…’ as those words make it seem like the toddler has a choice in the matter. If there is no choice to what you want your toddler to do, using choice wording will invite conflict and refusal if your toddler does not want to do it.

Offer limited choices

 

Sometimes offering your toddler a choice can help with non-compliance. For example, ‘You need to brush your teeth and use the potty. Which do you want to do first’. Make sure you are offering choices you can live with and limit the choices you offer to two.

Understand your toddler’s resistance

 

Sometimes we don’t like what we have to do. Toddlers are no different. If your toddler starts to have a tantrum or meltdown reflect back your child’s feelings. Repeat they do not want to stop playing, wear their coat, leave, etc. Restate back to them that they are mad, sad, frustrated, disappointed, etc. Acknowledging their feelings by reflecting them back, will help your toddler transition through their feelings faster.

Once they have calmed down offer them a hug, but remain insistent in the task being completed. That may mean you need to help them start the task or break it down into smaller tasks. It can also help to reaffirm your family’s values when enforcing the required task by stating “This is what we do in our family”.

Help your toddler learn

 

Toddlers learn best through mirroring and modeling so in the beginning, do the tasks along side your child so they learn how you expect the task to be done. Over time you will be able to remove yourself from participating once your toddler has learned what is expected.

 

Do you ned more support to help to get your toddler to cooperate and listen better?

If you need help putting any of the above parenting tips into practice or you have other parenting questions, I invite you to schedule a free 30 minute consultation so I can customize parenting solutions to fit for you and your child.

 

*Happy Parenting & Families does not receive any compensation for recommending this product.