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.

How to Heal Child Trauma: A Parent’s Guide to Nurturing Resilience

How to Heal Child Trauma: A Parent’s Guide to Nurturing Resilience

How to Heal Child Trauma

A Parent’s Guide to Nurturing Resilience

help child heal trauma through parent coaching

Experiences in Resilience Are Key To Helping Your Child Heal From Trauma


My youngest had a skiing accident in January of 2023 that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Recovery was slow, but in January 2024 we practiced our final step of healing. Not from the bodily injury which luckily they have recovered from, but from the emotional one. The traumatic one. We returned to where the accident happened and we tried skiing again.

There were times when my child felt scared, but we talked and hugged and I encouraged them to move past their fear to experience what they were capable of because I knew they were ready for this. And then we went slow and we skied together.


In short we had a lesson in resilience


And 3 hours later I couldn’t pull my child off the hill because they were having so much fun. And they were no longer skiing close to me, they wanted to do it on their own. They had experienced so much confidence building.

But the best part as a parent was that my child experienced resilience. The idea that sometimes in life, bad things happen. But it does not mean it stays like that forever. A child can overcome their fears and teach their body a new experience that helps to override the old. In short, a child can help themselves heal trauma.

Childhood trauma can occur in many different ways


Physical trauma to the body is just one of the many ways children can experience childhood trauma. But a lot of the time, the trauma that occurs in childhood is not visible by a physical accident. A lot of child trauma is the result of mental or emotional trauma. And you may not always know your child has gone through trauma until you start to notice new behaviors as part of their trauma response.

Because the truth is, trauma is not always a really big event. It can be a lot of little events that add up over time. Or it may be one event, but where you did not realize it was a significant event to your child because it did not impact you the same way. In fact, trauma can result from any stressful event. Sometimes it is from a bunch of little criticisms or dismissals. Other times the event is big or prolonged. But the key to something creating trauma in your child is that the event, big or small, short or long, was something that created significant stress in the child where things felt overwhelming and unpredictable. It is that feeling of extreme stress and unpredictability that creates child trauma. But the good news is you can help heal child trauma through resilience.


When you want to help heal child trauma through resilience, do the following:

1. Make sure you acknowledge and validate their feelings

Your child’s body is trying to keep them safe based on their past experience so it can produce some big and overwhelming feelings. Don’t gloss over those feelings, help your child to recognize them and where they may be coming from. And help them to co-regulate so those feelings don’t feel so overwhelming.

2. Help your child by letting them borrow your confidence

Your child will have doubts about trying something they feel is too hard or too scary. This is natural. Their body is trying to protect them from more trauma. Your job is to let them know you have confidence in them and that you believe they are ready so they can begin to believe it as well.

3. Go slow

It’s not about conquering it all. It is about helping your child stretch their tolerance while making them successful. Let them help guide the pace. Sometimes that means it is a small step in the direction of healing. And that is just fine. Keep having them take those small steps and they will get there.

The truth is my goal was to get my child back out to the same hill and onto skis. I was planning to spend the entire time on the bunny hill with them. And I was prepared to take a lot of breaks in the chalet.

And that slow approach with low expectations gave my child the chance to set their pace. It was my child that wanted to slowly do more and begin doing the bigger runs. Which is why it was so impactful because my child was leading their own trauma healing.

Final Thoughts On Healing Child Trauma


While trauma itself is never fully erased from the body, your goal is to create an experience to overshadow it. Something to remember if past trauma sparks an emotional response. Because that will happen from time to time with trauma. But the more experiences in resilience you can support, the more your child will be able to better manage their trauma response.

Finally, helping a child who has experienced trauma can be overwhelming sometimes. Some kids have very physical and aggressive behaviors because of the child trauma they have experienced. If you have a child with trauma that you are struggling to parent, reach out for help. I offer free consultations and all of my parenting techniques are trauma-informed to help aid healing in both you and your child.

Quick Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Quick Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Quick Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Even busy parents can succeed in making parenting changes. Follow these simple parenting tips for busy parents.

Let’s face it, as a parent you are busy. The overwhelm of parenting on top of all the other work in your life can be exhausting. And it can leave you feeling like you are failing as a parent and that something needs to change. And that’s the hard part, because how can you take on parenting changes when you are already feeling stretched thin? The truth is there is no perfect time to take on parenting changes so if you need some parenting relief here are 3 parenting tips for busy parents.


3 Parenting Tips For Busy Parents

1. Begin with a hug

When your child is struggling, begin by offering a hug. It may seem counterintuitive to offer a hug when your child is behaving poorly or being a jerk to someone in the family. But what they really need in that moment is connection and co-regulation so they can calm down. And that is what a hug can do for them. Once they are calm they will be more receptive to you correcting their behavior.

2. Make time for play

Whether you have a toddler, preschooler, school age child or teenager, kids need play. Because play is a destressor, healing agent and way to learn. And play with a parent can be a way to help them connect with you. This connection helps form the basis for trust when it comes to influencing your child’s behaviors. And for having them share information with you, especially when they are older. So take a little time each day, even 5 minutes is enough, to read a book with them, play something, have them teach you about something they are interested in or joke around.

3. Improve your listening

One of the complaints I hear most from parents is that their kid doesn’t listen to them. But listening is a two-way street. When parents become better listeners, their children become better listeners too. So the next time your child is complaining, not complying, not listening, etc. repeat back to them what they are saying. It doesn’t mean you are going to give in or give up, you are just showing them you hear what they are saying. And when your child feels heard, they can better accept what you are saying back to them.


Let’s talk about consistency


While consistency definitely helps with parenting changes, you don’t have to be perfect. Don’t let your struggle with consistency or lack of time be a barrier to trying these parenting tips. Try just one of the tips above once a day for a week to see how it makes you feel and how your child responds.

The most important part about parenting changes is not about perfection. It’s connection. Which is why these 3 tips are all based in creating connection.

So give yourself a little credit and a little slack as you try something new. Because you can begin to change your child’s behavior! And it doesn’t need to feel impossible.


And if you are at your breaking point…


As a Certified Parent Coach who has worked with many, many families I’m here to tell you, you can do this! Just like you are able to find the time to deal with a crisis when it arises in your house or at work, you can find the time and effort needed for parenting changes. But it doesn’t need to feel impossible and you don’t have to go it alone.

At Happy Parenting & Families parent coaching, I help make parenting easier. I listen to your parenting struggles and help you know what parenting solutions would work best for you and your family. So if you are feeling overwhelmed and alone in your parenting, reach out. I offer free 30 minute consultations so you can release your burden and begin getting parenting solutions that work! 

Holiday Harmony: Stress-Free Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Holiday Harmony: Stress-Free Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Holiday Harmony: Stress-Free Parenting Tips for Busy Parents

Holiday parenting tips


Holidays and school breaks can create a lot of parental stress. And kids are more likely to act out due to less structure. This leads parents to have less patience and more frustration. Add in travel, long visits with relatives and friends, sugary foods, interrupted sleep schedules and you’ve got a recipe for tough times.


So here are 5 holiday parenting tips to help you navigate


1. Readjust Your Expectations


Come to terms that things may not work out exactly how you would like them to. Take a moment to recognize a lot of things are outside of your control. It is not a reflection on you as a parent or as a person. And then come up with the next best thing you know you or your kids can do. This will help take some of the pressure off. And make everyone feel more successful when things do work out.


2. Take A Break


As a parent, if you are stressed, the whole family feels stressed. So as hard as it can be and as guilty as you might feel, it is important to practice self-care during holidays and school breaks.


And I know what you are thinking, you don’t have time for that. But, think of it this way. Parents set the tone for their families. So if you want to have a smoother holiday or break, you need to set the tone of being calm and relaxed. And the only way to do that is to actually become calm and relaxed.


Which brings us back to self-care needing to be a priority. Schedule it in as though it is an important meeting, because it is. Better yet, use the time before the holiday or school break as practice. Start asking for more help and taking more time for yourself. Help yourself get into the habit. Tanks can’t run on empty so make sure you are going into your holiday or school break with a full tank.


3. Practice Self-Compassion


It’s okay to feel sad, overwhelmed and upset. These are emotions that a lot of people feel everyday. Even during holidays when you are ‘supposed’ to feel happy. It is also okay to feel the grief of not having things go the way you want or for traditions being changed.


What can help you through these tough emotions is practicing self-compassion.


In short, self-compassion is treating yourself like you would a close friend. Realizing that you are dealing with something tough. Recognizing that others may also be struggling like you. And that this is just one moment in time.


And because it is a tough time, you deserve to meet yourself with kindness and understanding. As you would a friend.


Need more of a push? Studies have shown that self-compassion can help increase oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone that can counteract increased blood pressure and cortisol, the stress hormone. And that helps lower your stress and decreases your anxiety. Plus self-compassion has the added benefit of helping you stay in the present moment. So you have a higher chance of actually enjoying the holiday with your children and family.


4. Move Your Body


Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress in your body and reset your stress response. Whether you like to run, lift weights, go for a walk, or something else, just get your body moving.


The reason exercise works so well is because it helps to complete the body’s stress cycle.


It’s easy to get stuck in a stress cycle when you are running from one thing to the next. But when you exercise and bring your heart rate up and then stop exercising and your heart rate comes back to normal, it is a natural signal to your body to stop its stress response.


When you can get your body to stop signaling a stress response it will reduce the levels of cortisol in your system. Less cortisol allows you to think more clearly, function better and sleep better. It also gives you more control over your emotional regulation, making it easier to keep your cool. Which is a win for you and your kids.


5. Practice Mindfulness


Mindfulness is the exercise of staying in the present moment. And staying in the present moment can help you cut down on a lot on stress. It can also help you reset so you can appreciate the things that are going well.


Now if you aren’t into mindfulness or feel like it is too difficult, stick with me for a moment. Because anyone can learn to practice mindfulness, even kids.


Mindfulness is about being in the moment, noticing your thoughts/feelings and then letting them go. So it is okay if you think about things as you try to be mindful. Simply acknowledge your thought or emotion and then try to let that thought or emotion go.


For beginners and for kids, I like to help teach mindfulness through exercises that engage the senses. A very popular mindfulness exercise for this is noticing 5 things you hear, 4 things you see/notice, 3 things you feel, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste.


Another way to begin to practice mindfulness  is doing 10-20 jumping jacks. Then rest your hand on your heart and focus on how your heart rate comes back to normal.

Learning to practice mindfulness, like self-compassion takes time. But the benefits are worth it, so give it a try.


Final Thoughts


Holidays and school breaks don’t have to be a time of stress. Try out the above  holiday parenting tips to see what they can do for you and your family. And if you feel like you need more parenting support to navigate, reach out to me for a free 30 minute consultation and together we will work to create better balance in your parenting life.

COVID-19 Parenting Tips

COVID-19 Parenting Tips

COVID-19 Parenting Tips

7 COVID-19 parenting tips to help your child or teenager cope with the pandemic

Life during COVID has been hard for everyone. And now with the recent talk of school re-closures and increase in infections it can cause a lot of people to experience trauma. It is natural to feel anxiety and dread as we remember back to past times when ‘normalcy’ was lost.

It certainly is a tough time, but we are here to remind you that you don’t have to go it alone. And we want to make sure you are taking good care of yourself while you are helping your child.

Here are 7 COVID-19 parenting tips to help make life during the pandemic a little easier.

1. Adjust your expectations

You may feel completely powerless and frustrated right now. You’re not alone. While you may normally be able to better handle the challenges life throws your way, this time may be different. You or your child may be feeling the fatigue of the pandemic as well as the grief that comes with another round of changes.

Adjusting your expectations about what is doable and setting new goals that are achievable for the current environment will help both you and your child feel more successful.

Help your child realize when they have a reason to celebrate or have achieved something. This will help them stay focused on the positive during hard times.

2. Help your child find some perspective

As parents, we often forget what it is like to think like a child. Because a child has limited experiences and cognitive ability, they are limited in their ability to predict the future based on the past. Or to know that challenges will not last forever.

For a child, their life experience is so short and insulated to their immediate world that the worries, stress and challenges brought on by COVID may seem overwhelming and never ending. Especially as there is a new surge in infections that are beginning to impact their sense of normalcy again.
As a parent or caregiver, you can help your child by giving them some perspective and assurances that these circumstances will not last forever.

Talk about past events that you or they experienced that felt like they lasted a really long time, and how they ended. Even bringing attention to how things are different now can help to highlight progress being made.

You can also talk about the 1918 flu pandemic as a way to explain the story a pandemic follows and to talk about where this pandemic is in the story line.

3. Name it to tame it

COVID is a time of many emotions. And it is perfectly normal for you or your child to feel negatively right now. But if you tend to ignore negative emotions or push through them, it’s time to take a different approach.

Emotions are made to have a life cycle. And when we ignore hard emotions we are actually causing those emotions to get stuck inside us. This means we feel hard emotions longer and can have a harder time transitioning to a different state of being.

The best way to solve this problem is to acknowledge the feelings you are feeling. By naming your emotions can actually help bring yourself out of a bad mood faster.

So the next time you or your child is having a tough time, name what each of you are feeling. Realize that children may need your help putting names to the strong emotions they are feeling. Drawing is also another good way to have children express big emotions. Have your child share their picture with you when they are done and ask them to tell you about their picture.

Once named, acknowledge what you or your child are feeling. Tell yourself or your child it is okay to feel that way, that a lot of people are feeling that way right now. You’ll be surprised how fast everyone will feel better.

4. Find the next best thing

Life can feel hard and sad when we take notice of all the things we are missing due to COVID. This can come out as challenging behavior in children. This is because children and teenagers are still developing coping techniques, emotional intelligence and executive functioning. So in addition to naming your emotions (Tip 3), it is important to help your child figure out what the next best thing is.

In doing this, you are helping your child learn problem solving skills. This can help them to feel a sense of agency and build resiliency.

If they are still resistant to alternative options, teach them to say ‘it is not something I would have chosen, but this is the next best thing’. This helps to acknowledge their feelings and can help them move on faster.
Re-framing choices and circumstances in this light can help children, and adults, feel more control and power in their lives, which helps with overall mental health.

5. Get outside

There are plenty of sources that explain how beneficial the great outdoors are for mental health and children. So even if you are not the outdoorsy type, try to get outside for a walk or activity at least once a day for 15-20 minutes.

If you are looking for something a little more creative than a walk, try boot skating/ice skating, sledding, a nature scavenger hunt or check out your local nature centers for a list of outdoor activities. For kids and teenagers, usually the hardest part is getting them out the door. But once they are out they generally find a plethora of things to do and play with without you having to entertain them.

If you have a hard time getting your child out the door, set up a consistent time everyday so that it becomes a part of their routine.

6. Get moving

On the days when it is too cold to go outside, or you have lost motivation to make it out the door (because let’s face it some days are just like that), make sure you and your child are getting some kind of physical movement during the day. Walk like a crab around the living room, better yet have a crab race with your child. Walk like a bear, do some yoga or jumping jacks.

For teenagers, having sock snowball fights or playing a game like Throw Throw Burrito can get them moving. Teenagers are still willing to play if you take the lead. So make it fun, light and optional and they will eventually become curious enough to participate.

Even 3 minutes of activity can get the heart rate up and can change the disposition of a child or teenager who is struggling.

7. Remember trauma can be triggered

COVID-19 has brought some form of loss to everyone. From normalcy, to jobs, to illness and death, everyone has been effected in some way. Because of this, we have all experienced trauma due to COVID-19.

So it is not hard to understand how setbacks and changes to COVID ‘normalcy’ acts as a trigger to many of us and our children. Once again, when trauma is triggered it can come out as challenging behaviors, tantrums, impatience and being rigid.

If you or your child have trauma in your past, it is important to understand this can also become triggered. Open up communication and have age appropriate talks about COVID as well as any fear being felt. It is important to remember that trauma can be triggered in many different ways, but that when trauma is triggered, it needs to be met with compassion and understanding.

Responding in anger, frustration or by withdrawing will worsen the trauma reaction and result in a more intense emotional response. Try to remember your child is coming from a place of fear. Reflect back to them what they are expressing in their words and actions. Remember trauma can be triggered anytime and it takes time to process. Being willing to talk openly as many times as needed about your child’s fears is one of the best ways you can support your child during this time.

If you have a history of trauma or notice that you are becoming triggered, be kind to yourself. Make sure you have a safe space to decompress and take time to care for yourself. It’s okay to tell your child that you are sad or mad, and how you are taking care of yourself. It is good for children to hear healthy ways the adults they love show feelings and self-care. But children are not a substitute for having a support person you trust. Make sure you make your self-care a priority if you have a history of trauma. It will allow you to parent your child better.

Final Note

The above COVID-19 parenting tips are meant to help the majority of parents. Parents and caregivers who love children who struggle with certain disorders, high sensitivity, anxiety or trauma may need more support during this time that is individualized to their needs. If you would like to discuss personalized options for your child, we invite you to schedule a free 30 minute chat with us so we can tailor tips that would work best for your family.

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