Best Toddler Tips: How to get your toddler to listen
Are you wondering how to get your toddler to listen? Do you have a wonderful, lively, enthusiastic toddler? what a gift! many people think the toddler years are expected to be “terrible” but I disagree. The toddler years are a beautiful time when you get to be a part of your toddler’s excitement for the world around them. However, I am also realistic and I know that it can be very exhausting and difficult sometimes to be a parent of a toddler. I have an eleven-year-old, and a one-year-old, and below is a list of the top tips that I have learned to implement with my second baby (sorry to my first baby for getting the less wise version of your mom). So let’s have a look at this list of ways how to get your toddler to listen and cooperate.
This post contains affiliate links to products we genuinely love. If purchased, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We appreciate this to help us keep bringing you support and inspiration, thank you.
You may also like: 20 enjoyable toddler activities
How to get your toddler to listen and cooperate
“Now and then”
If your child wants to do something but it isn’t convenient at that moment, help them understand in simple terms. The “now and then” approach can help with this. For example, now we are going to the shop, then we can go to the park. Or even simpler for really young children “Shop now, park later”. This helps them understand that now doesn’t mean never, and you’ve also acknowledged what they are trying to communicate. This will help them with developing patience and communication. You can also use charts that show them the routine for the day, like this fantastic toddler day planner.
Say goodbye to places and things
It is difficult for toddlers to leave places and things behind, especially when they’ve really enjoyed their experiences. Care.com Talks about how children live in the moment and how they are in the flow of enjoying learning. Just like we would be upset if interrupted, so are they when they are interrupted. When we think about how that feels for us, it helps us to parent from a point of understanding and compassion. So when we acknowledge that the place or thing is meaningful to that child, we are able to help them to leave them behind by acknowledging it and saying “goodbye” to it. This helps them from transitioning one place to another. Rather than just abruptly leaving without any recognition of what it meant to them at that moment. It can also help to give them some time before leaving so that they know what will come next and to also tell them what you will be doing after leaving.
Narrate their inner world
Ultimately our children are going to have tantrums, this is healthy and it’s normal. It shows that they can release their feelings instead of holding in when they are overwhelmed, which would be really unhealthy. For example, we may need to take something away that they wanted to play with because it’s not suitable or safe. Our child’s reaction will be a normal reaction to someone taking something away that you want to play with. But they haven’t developed the strategies yet to self-regulate and communicate their inner world. We can help them by narrating what is going on for them. For example. “You were playing with my pen, and you were really enjoying that, Mummy took it away and you’re feeling sad about that, I know, it’s upsetting when that happens” You can offer your child a hug if they want, or just be there to coregulate.
You will likely find your child will come back to a regulated state a lot quicker than if they were just ignored. This will help them to learn how to handle these types of emotions. Because we also don’t want our children to just learn that people can walk all over them, for example, if a child tries to take a toy that belongs to them we want them to be able to assert how they feel or ask for help. So when we are treating them in this respectful way, we are telling them that their emotions matter even when we need to have boundaries.
You may also like: How do you stop tantrums? Understanding your toddler
Give them choices whenever possible. According to dr Allie ticktin on motherly, choices avoids tantrums, builds confidence, cultivates a sense of value, teaches responsibility, fosters creativity, and develops problem-solving skills, For example, if your toddler wants to go on your phone but you’ve set a limit on screen time, then give them other choices; “would you like to do some drawing?” “or would you like to play with water in the garden?” It also helps to give them choices with things that usually lead to low cooperation, such as offering a choice of which coat they’d like to put on, or if they’d like to brush their teeth with the pink or green toothbrush. Keeping the choices between two different ones will keep it simple so they don’t get overwhelmed especially with really young toddlers.
Lower your expectations
It’s unreasonable to expect a toddler whose brain is still developing to act like a mini adult. They don’t have the tools to be able to do this, nor should they have to. Their priority should be about play, exploring, and building connections. When we prioritize this instead of how they are acting, we allow them to fully be themselves and to be happy, this will help them be more cooperative in the long run and we will be less likely to get frustrated. So for example, if you want to go out to a restaurant, instead of expecting your toddler to sit quietly in the highchair for the duration of a meal, maybe you could start with just going out for a drink and bring some things for them to play with. Or, if you’d like to bake a cake with your toddler, don’t expect the cake to be perfect, let it be a learning messy cake and prepare for accidents and spills. This will make you less frustrated and it will make it a beautiful bonding experience for you and your toddler.
Create an environment that enables their independence
Our toddlers want to be independent just as much as we want them to be. This doesn’t need to be forced, it just needs to be enabled in a way that allows them to develop their independence at their own natural pace. Does your toddler love to put on their own shoes? Allow extra time for this before you leave, praise them for doing this (even if you need to step in and put them on the correct feet) keep a plastic bowl to hand so that you can fill it with soapy water and they can wash their own hands before eating. Show them how to put rubbish in the bin. Toddlers will love to do this and it will make them more cooperative and develop confidence and self-esteem.
You may also like: Parenting hacks for keeping a toddler entertained
Be consistent with limits
An excellent way how to get your toddler to listen is to be consistent with limits and boundaries. This helps them to feel safe and it also prevents us from parental burnout. It’s important to decide what the limits are and then make sure we follow through with them. This way our children learn that we are also reliable and we mean what we say. This helps them to be more cooperative because they will have clear guidelines rather than not knowing what is okay from one day to the next which causes confusion. Therefore they’ll be less likely to push their limits and more likely to feel safer, grounded and as a result more likely to cooperate with you.
Make it an opportunity rather than a demand
The way we word things and the expression in which we say things can be so powerful in making a difference. So instead of simply saying “Time to have a bath” you could say “Let’s go and play with your bath toys together” or, instead of “Right, go and get in the car” try “Let’s jump like bunnies to the car!” This will help so much with your toddler cooperating because life is about fun and learning to them, and you’ll enjoy parenting more too. Your bond will flourish, your toddler will be happier, and your days will flow a lot easier.
Show them what you want them to do instead of labeling them
Toddlers don’t know how to behave yet, that’s why we are here to guide them. When they do something like running off or hitting, they aren’t doing it to “be bad”, they are just showing us how they feel in that moment. It isn’t helpful to tell them just to “stop doing that” and label them as “naughty” or “bad”, because when we label them, they aren’t able to distinguish who they are from their behavior, so they will just internalize that they are “naughty” or ” bad” people. Instead, we need to show them what is actually acceptable for them to do. For example, “You need to walk down the road like this”, or “You can stroke the dog gently like this”. Teaching them how to behave is a lot more effective and this is going to help your toddler be more cooperative because they are going to feel good about themselves and their abilities.
You may also like: Alternatives to “stop it!”
Did you find these “how to get your toddler to listen” ways useful? If so let us know in the comments! we love to hear about your experiences, after all, we are all in this together. See you soon 🙂