12 Ways To Talk So Your Toddler Will Listen

(Last Updated On: July 16, 2019)

Being a parent of a toddler can be so tiring and even nerve racking. I know I live in fear sometimes when we go out and I absolutely fear the uncertainty of what my toddler would do or say.  Toddlers can also have short attention spans that make them even more difficult to deal with and understand. At this age, they begin to be non-compliant, test the boundaries and sometimes, their favorite word seems to be “no”. I was doing some research into ways to help our toddlers listen to us – here are 12 ways we can talk so they are more likely to listen.

12 ways to talk to toddler listen

1. Be in close proximity.

Have you ever noticed how toddlers have seem to master the art of ignoring you when you call them from the next room? Well, toddlers tend to be focused on doing whatever task is at hand and tend to block out the whole world. It can be annoying at times but raising your voice or continuing to talk to them from a distance won’t help. It would be better if you walk over to where they are and talk to them at eye level.

2. Be at their level.

Toddlers are used to being smaller than everyone else and they have become accustomed to just minding their own business. Besides, if you were in their shoes, looking up all the time and waiting for someone to acknowledge you can be exhausting. So if you want them to listen to you, you need to bend, kneel or sit close to them so they know you are talking to them.

Related: 5 Easy Ways To Occupy Kids On The Go

3. Give them choices.

At this age, toddlers are looking for a sense of control which is why they absolutely love saying “no” to their parents who like to tell them what to do. It would be best to offer them choices so they feel as if they are in control. Instead of commanding them to clean their teeth for example, try asking if they want the green toddler toothbrush or the blue one.

4. Use language they can easily understand.

Toddlers are only beginning to understand simple directions and negative terms so it is preferable that you use positive commands instead. You also don’t want to overwhelm them by giving them a command and then asking them to respond immediately. Set them up for success. Give them a few seconds to think about what you said and wait for them to respond.

5. Avoid being bossy.

Children don’t want to be bossed around so avoid telling them what to do. Instead of giving them a command, state it in such a way that it sounds like a request. You can even add in the magic word “please”. Bed time is a big issue. Toddlers don’t want to go to bed. Try to reframe it instead of commanding them.

Read: Bedtime Routine For Toddlers

6. Always follow through.

Sometimes, the reason our little ones don’t listen to us can be because we have let them get away with it the first, second or third time. Give them a directive, always couple it with a consequence if they disobey it. If they don’t obey it, push through with the consequence. But if they do listen to what you say, praise them so the behaviour is reinforced.

7. Be pleasant and maintain eye contact.

Toddlers don’t respond well to someone who looks frustrated. They tend to feel flustered if someone who looks hurried or distressed talks to them (plus they sometimes don’t understand an adult’s body language). This is why it is important that you be calm, pleasant and maintain eye contact when talking to little kids.

8. Be calm and assertive.

As mentioned in the previous point, it is important to be pleasant when talking to a child. In conjunction with that is being calm and assertive, especially when the toddler is looking for security. This also encourages cooperation.

9. Avoid dramatics.

Did you know that toddlers sometimes don’t understand sarcasm? Yelling and giving out empty threats won’t do anything good as well. You might end up feeling even more annoyed when you realise that your child doesn’t actually understand your dramatics! What you can do instead is go straight to the point, give them clear rules and boundaries.

10. Get their confirmation.

Whenever you say something to a child (be it a directive or a request), you should always make it a habit to verify whether they heard what you said or not. A simple “yes” would suffice.

11. Incorporate listening in a game.

Children love to play games. And as every parent would know, it is very effective to use games as a median to teach children something. One popular game you can use to teach your child to listen is Simon Says. Just remember to make it fun for them.

12. Be a role model.

“Monkey see, monkey do.” Children learn by example. If we want our children to learn how to listen and communicate properly then we must try to be conscious of doing the above points ourselves (of course, we all know it’s easier said than done!). They may not pick up what you are trying to teach them within a day but if they repeatedly see you doing the abovementioned ways, then positive results can be more likely.

It can be difficult to deal with a child’s resistive behaviour but as parents, there are ways we can try to make it easier. Give your child a sense of control, give them options, talk to them calmly, be pleasant and calm, make sure you make eye contact with them and be a good listener yourself and in no time, your toddler will be a very good listener too.

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